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Go down from your ivory towers: Diokno wants more academe input in crafting budget

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Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno is considering to include the academe in budget deliberations on macro economic assumptions to make discussions more transparent.

In an interview by journalists after the forum entitled “2017 Open Budget Survey: How Did the Philippines Fares?” at De La Salle University in Manila Tuesday, Diokno said they plan to include members of the academe in the deliberations starting this year.

“Maybe we can involve economic organizations on deliberations on the macroeconomic assumptions. We’ll involve academic institutions,” he said.

The plan is part of the measures to ensure transparency in governance.

To date, the country has a 67 Open Budget Index (OBI) in terms of budget transparency, based on the biennial Open Budget Survey (OBS) last conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in 2017.

Last year, the country got the highest score in OBS among Asian countries and was followed by Indonesia, 64; Jordan, 63; Japan, 60, and and South Korea, 60.

The Philippines ranks 19th in the world, with the OBI average now at 42.

OBS uses 109 equally-weighted indicators to determine a country’s budget transparency based on the amount and timeliness that a government discloses budget information to the public.

In last year’s survey, the country got a score of 41 for public participation, one of the four countries that include New Zealand, Australia, and United Kingdom that are above the global average of 12.

During the forum, Diokno said the government was committed to ensure fiscal openness as it continue to push for the approval of the proposed budget reform bill.

He explained that the focus to ensure accountability of government is among the topics during the regional dialogues on budget transparency.

“We want to make sure that citizens have a seat in the policy table and have a legitimate vote and voice,” he said.

It was suggested during the forum that the Executive department submit the proposed medium-term budget strategy not later by March 15 of the current year to enable legislators to examine and provide their own input, to which Diokno agrees to to “satisfy the recommendation.”

At present, the President submits the proposed budget of the following year on the fourth Monday of July or the day when the Chief Executive delivers the State of the Nation Address (SONA).