Improved Financial Reporting in 2018 Budget is Gain for Fiscal Transparency – Social Watch PH| SWP Press Release Jan 16 2018
SocialWatch Phils·Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) lauds the inclusion of the provision requiring the reporting of monthly and quarterly financial reports to be presented vis-à-vis corresponding Programs/Activities/Projects (PAPs) in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA). “This provision will ensure more transparent and accountable full public disclosure of various reports on budget implementation,” SWP Co-Convenor Isagani Serrano said. On October 26 last year, SWP submitted its proposed amendments on the then-2018 General Appropriations Bill (House Bill 6132) to the Senate Finance Committee and champion Senators. The SWP amendment also broadened the list of financial reports all national government agencies (NGAs) are required to submit to the DBM, COA, the House of Representatives and the Senate, with SWP contributing the inclusion of “obligations incurred or liquidated, unliquidated obligations, total disbursements”, on top of the “monthly reports on release, obligations and balance of current and continuing appropriations” which were proposed under the 2018 National Expenditure Program. “Integrating total disbursements in the financial reports and clarifying the extent of obligations reporting will enjoin agencies to practice efficient spending of respective budgets as programmed and on schedule. It will also provide a full picture of the status of expenditures on a regular basis,” Serrano explained. Sponsored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, this amendment was ratified by the House and Senate and eventually enacted in the 2018 budget law, as reflected in Section 95 Financial Reports and Section 96 Quarterly Financial and Physical Reports under General Provisions of the budget law. “We are pleased that our proposal was met with the approval of both Houses of Congress and the President without conditionalities,” Serrano exclaimed. Pushing for increased public investment in children, specifically on child protection, SWP is optimistic that Sections 95-96 will aid in understanding the investment program of the NGAs and the corresponding PAPs which address violence against children. “Crucial for both budget formulation and budget tracking, this positive development is as huge step in building areas of cooperation with key agencies to continuously advocate for the needed budget that addresses violence against children and eventually increase the allocation for the children’s right to protection,” Reye Raya, another SWP Co-convenor, shared. At present, financial reports posted publicly are generic in nature, showing aggregate figures of budget releases, obligations, and disbursements, without accounting the relevant PAPs in the national budget. “SWP believes that the accountability for full disclosure does not lie with the agencies alone. We also call on the recipient agencies DBM, COA, the Committee of Appropriations House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Finance to make the said reports accessible to the public and with the same details as the agency-level reports,” Raya added. Serrano pointed out that SWP will continue to engage with DBM and legislative champions so that the reporting by PAPs becomes regular fixture in the budget law. There will also be a need for DBM to formulate an issuance clarifying the parameters of Sections 95-96 reportorial provisions.
“With the full force of the law by our side, SWP will remain vigilant in monitoring that this requirement be put into practice. We look forward to the opportunity to maximize spaces and entry points for fiscal transparency towards realizing meaningful people’s participation in the budget process and ending violence against children,” Serrano concluded.
Isagani R Serrano Rene Raya Jeck Reyes-Cantos Marivic Raquiza Janet Crndng