The Philippines-Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP) is assisting the Philippine government to start shifting from obligation-based appropriations to annual cash based appropriations as a disciplined measure to better manage public resources and deliver on its promise to double infrastructure spending and ramp up social sector spending.
The PFM principals comprised of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) and the Commission on Audit (COA), have endorsed the new reform strategy of introducing cash appropriations.
The foundation of this reform is to shift the focus of the budget system away from incurring obligations to spending cash.
Obligations are intentions, not expenditures. The current system of obligation-based appropriations does not promote disciplined execution of the annual budget,” said DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno. This is the essence of a sound public financial management or PFM system: an annual budget that is promptly funded, implemented and accounted for.
The Government has committed to spend 7% of the country’s GDP on infrastructure following its aggressive mandate to “Build, Build, Build”—a program aimed at ushering in the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” for the Philippines.
“The political priority of the infrastructure agenda gives this PFM reform a hard edge. It is about making the PFM system fit for purpose,” said Gary Ellem, PFMP Team Leader. “We think this is a sound reform that is timely and will help the Government of the Philippines deliver. DBM, BTr and COA are right behind this. Although this reform is a significant change, it builds on key reforms that PFMP has supported in recent years like the TSA, BTMS and PREXC,” he added.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a cash management system that consolidates government accounts and optimizes utilization of the government’s cash resources. The Budget and Treasury Management System (BTMS) is an integrated, web-based financial management information system that covers budget execution and reporting. Meanwhile, the PREXC restructures an agency’s budget around programs to promote a better focus on policy and performance. The move to annual cash based appropriations builds on all three reforms as the basis for a sound, transparent and efficient use of public funds. (contributed by the Public Financial Management Program)
The United Nations formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 and already the Commission on Audit (COA) moved to educate its auditors to plan for the audit of eventual Philippine programs under the SDG roadmap.
COA held a briefing on the efforts of the Philippine Statistical System on Gender Statistics and the SDGs on 9 March 2017 at the Professional Development Center as part of its national women’s month celebration. Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducted the briefing.
Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) briefs COANs on PSA efforts on gender statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals on 9 March 2017.
Officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are the result of a consultation process among UN member states, civil society and other stakeholders and composed of 17 goals, 169 unique targets, and 230 indicators with focus on economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. The Philippines is one of 193 UN member states who committed to the 17 goals in order to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and fix climate change in the span of 15 years.
Guillen said the member states, including the Philippines, will develop indicators at regional, national and sub-national levels to complement the global indicators. Guillen suggested that the possible indicators that COA can provide are the proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection) under Goal 1 (No Poverty) and proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment under Goal 5 (Gender Equality).
Guillen also shared PSA efforts to improve the availability of relevant, timely, disaggregated and better quality statistics, including the conduct of a pilot survey on evidence and data on gender equality (EDGE) measuring asset and ownership from a gender perspective and development of methodology for generating multidimensional poverty index.
COA officials emphasized the importance of leveling up auditors’ understanding and appreciation of gender and development (GAD) data for use in the audit of GAD funds as well as the need to invest in statistics to enhance audit services.
Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, COA Gender and Development Focal Point System Technical Working Group Chairperson, stresses the importance of statistics in enhancing audit work.
Meanwhile, COA is already half-way in joining the nation’s celebration of women’s month with focus on collaborative efforts to make change work for women. “Our own GAD Focal Point System has been working tirelessly in implementing GAD programs and projects in the Commission. I am proud to say that women in COA are not only the beneficiaries of GAD programs and projects but are also drivers of change as leaders in the Commission,” Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo said.
COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and PNOC RC President and CEO John J. Arenas (center) lead the inauguration ceremony for the 200kWp Rooftop Solar PV Project on 1 March 2017. With them are (from left) COA Commissioner Isabel D. Agito, Director Maria Carmina E. Cruz of the PNOC RC and Engineer Pedro L. Lite Jr., Vice President for Operations of the PNOC RC.
The Commission on Audit (COA) donned its environment-friendly hat by promoting renewable energy (RE) through the new 200 kilowatt solar rooftop facilities installed at its Professional Development Center (PDC) Building and new COA Dormitory. The project was made in cooperation with the Philippine National Oil Company – Renewables Corporation (PNOC RC).
COA and the PNOC RC held the switch-on ceremony for the rooftop solar PV project on 1 March 2017 at the PDC Building.
COA undertook the project in response to the government campaign to utilize alternative source of electricity at less cost.
“We are hoping that through this project we will be able to generate significant savings by lowering our electricity cost and at the same time, lower our carbon footprint for environmental reasons,” COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo said. He added that while only two COA buildings were installed with the rooftop solar PV, there is a lot of potential for the other Central Office buildings and Regional Offices.
View of the solar panels installed at the Professional Development Center
We are elated that our fellow government agencies, such as COA, are engaged in the development and implementation of renewable and efficient energy programs. It is evident that COA’s initiatives are aligned with the PNOC RC’s vision and the government’s thrust on promoting renewable energy. We are grateful and we are proud to be working with another government agency that shares the same values and vision and we look forward to working with COA as a long-term partner,” PNOC RC President and CEO John J. Arenas said.
The Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman strengthened anew their joint anti-corruption initiatives to ensure fast and successful investigation and prosecution of graft and corruption cases.
COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to renew their agencies’ collaborative efforts to pursue, as a shared responsibility, the effective evaluation, audit, investigation, prosecution and monitoring of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Cases on 28 February 2017 at the Edsa Shangri-La Manila, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City. The project is supported by the USAID Integrity for Investments Initiative (i3).
Chairperson Aguinaldo said the program is a continuation of the existing partnership between COA and OMB in fighting corruption. “It is one step forward if we want to speed up cases involving high value and high profile cases that require extraordinary attention because of the amounts involved,” Chairperson Aguinaldo observed.
Ombudsman Carpio Morales thanked COA for its cooperation and symbiotic relationship with the Office of the Ombudsman. “We exert so much effort in investigating cases involving fraud and corruption related offenses. We expect to be faster in resolving cases to meet the expectations of the people,” the Ombudsman said.
Under the Guidelines on Joint Investigations, the JITs shall investigate fraud audit-related complaints or reports arising from the same or closely-related transactions or acts involving at least P100 million; graft and corruption cases investigated by Congress and other JIT cases imbued with public interest regardless of the amount involved.
COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales proudly show off the MOA renewing their agencies' joint anti-corruption initiatives.
The Focal Persons, COA Assistant Commissioner Alexander B. Juliano and Deputy Special Prosecutor Mary Susan Guillermo of the Office of the Ombudsman, described the highlights of the MOA which include institutionalizing a “JIT Priority Lane”, undertaking joint capability building activities, requesting other law enforcement agents to assist them in the performance of their duties and public reporting of cases, among others.
The reconstituted JIT shall focus on new cases while cases under the previous MOA will be monitored to track status. The COA and the OMB have previously entered into joint investigation agreements in 2010 and 2012. #
Senior officials of the Royal Audit Authority of Bhutan visited the Philippine Commission on Audit to study auditing from a gender perspective.
The Philippine Commission on Audit (COA) shared its experiences in auditing from a gender perspective with senior officials of the Royal Audit Authority of Bhutan during a study visit in the country from 23 to 27 January 2017.
COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo with Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Isabel D. Agito met their Bhutanese counterparts led by Deputy Auditor Generals Prem Mani Pradhan and Chimi Dorji with Assistant Auditor Generals Keldang Namgyel and Dechen Pelden.
Chairperson Aguinaldo thanked the Bhutan audit officials for appreciating the country and wished them to have a fruitful learning and knowledge sharing.
COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, head of the Technical Working Group of the COA Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS), GFPS Secretariat Director Fortunata M. Rubico and Gender Specialist Lourdes C. Turiano discussed the role and achievements of the COA relating to Gender and Development (GAD) concerns.
COA officials shared the Commission’s pioneering work on the audit of GAD-allocated funds, including the development of its own framework towards results-focused audit approach of GAD-related programs and activities through appropriate utilization of GAD-allotted funds.
The delegates also learned about the Philippines’ GAD policies and issues in a visit to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Versoza gave the delegates an oversight on the mandates and role of the PCW, GAD approaches and strategies in the country, Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Effort and GAD planning and budgeting process in the Philippines. The delegates also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between COA and PCW renewing their partnership to intensify the monitoring and auditing of GAD budget.
Delegates also learned how a particular agency implements GAD programs in a visit to the Commission on Higher Education at the end of their week-long study visit to the country.
Deputy Auditor General Chimi Dorji thanked the hosts for the productive study visit and hoped to use what they have learned to improve their audit work relating to GAD concerns. #