Civil society organizations have reached another milestone in carrying out their expanded role as recognized partners of government in preparing and securing the national budget.
In a meeting held at Astoria Plaza in Pasig City, INCITEGov and the Local Implementation of National Competitiveness for Economic Growth (LINC-EG), under support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), signed a pivotal agreement to continue the Philippine National Budget Monitoring Project (PNBMP).
“The USAID is privileged to continue our support to the Budget Network in advancing fiscal transparency and accountability,” said Daniel Miller, Chief of the USAID’s Office of Economic Development and Governance, in a speech delivered by John Avila. “Your excellent work under the foundational phase of the project laid the groundwork for the exceptional partnership between the Department of Budget and Management and the civil society community.”
During its first phase, which concluded in 2009, PNBMP has gathered more than 50 participants from 28 CSOs in a series of discussions on how to engage the national budget process and develop the capacity to monitor the budget.
For its second phase, five CSOs were identified to pursue a specialized monitoring study on sectoral and agency budgets.
The Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE-NGO) has committed to continue monitoring the Department of Agriculture. Having identified overreliance on lump sum expenditures and highly centralized fund management as the department’s main constraints, the group will actively engage NGOs and POs to participate in ensuring transparency in spending the agency’s budget.
The Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRAA), which focuses on monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in the countryside, will expand its ground network to increase peoples’ awareness of the CARP budget framework.
The Philippine Partnership for the Support Services Agencies (PHILSSA) will enhance its efforts in monitoring the budget of the National Housing Authority for socialized housing projects, particularly for years 2009 and 2010.
The Institute of Popular Democracy (IPD) will spearhead a study on the national-local performance-based grants in the water and health sectors, focusing focus on the allocation and utilization of capitation funds distributed by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Department of Health and identified LGUs.
The Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) will establish baseline data on and benchmarking of Commission on Elections spending during election periods.
“We could not have found a better time to pursue reforms in this area with the welcoming attitude of the Aquino administration for such civil society initiatives,” said Vic Ramos, INCITEGov chair. Recently, the Department of Budget and Management has issued National Budget Memorandum No. 109 which sets guidelines for CSO participation in the budget process.
“But there is still much to be done. We need to increase capacity among civil society organizations for them to reach out to more communities and inspire them to develop a wellspring of interest and a deeper sense of responsibility for the implementation of government projects in their respective areas,” Ramos said.