Philippines gains ground on public financial management reforms

Published: 16 June 2015
Commission on Audit (COA) top executives led by Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia with PFMP Team Leader and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Counsellor Daniel Featherston and Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Richard E. Moya shortly after the Brown Bag Session hosted by the COA.

Quezon City – The Philippines is gaining considerable ground in improving its public financial management system through programs that allow the government timely and accurate reporting of actual budget spending, accounting and auditing rules that adhere to international standards, and a broader and deeper citizen engagement in the budget process.

These reforms highlighted the Brown Bag Session on Public Financial Management (PFM) hosted by the Commission on Audit (COA) in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Philippines-Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP) held at the COA Professional and Institutional Development Sector Auditorium on June 16, 2015.

Chairperson Aguinaldo welcomes participants to the PFM Brown Bag Session on Public Financial Management.

The event updated 100 COA top executives led by COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia, as well as auditors and support staff on the progress achieved by the PFM Reform Program which aims to improve efficiency, accountability and transparency in public fund use in order to ensure the direct, immediate, substantial and economic delivery of public services. 

COA, the DBM, the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) are the four principal government agencies leading the PFM reform program with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Among these reforms are the implementation in 2014 of the Unified Account Code Structure (UACS) that enables a budget tracking system to ensure that public spending is within means and on the right programs and that services are delivered to actual beneficiaries; and the adoption in 2013 of the Revised Chart of Accounts (RCA) for National Government Agencies to support the UACS and to enhance accountability and transparency of financial reports.

As one of the four principals, COA adopted 25 Philippine Public Sector Accounting Standards (PPSAS), enhanced the Electronic New Government Accounting System, and conducted capacity building and training on PPSAS and RCA, among other accomplishments.

COA also issued Circular No. 2015-001 on January 29, 2015 directing government agencies to revert cash balances of all dormant accounts, and unnecessary special and trust funds to the General Fund, a move which saved government billions of pesos.

Chairperson Aguinaldo acknowledged the contribution of all the principals involved in the program. “All of our accomplishments are possible only because of the hard work and commitment of our COA officials, auditors and support staff as well as our counterparts in the DBM, the DOF and the BTr and the support of the DFAT,” Chairperson Aguinaldo said.

“We look forward to continue working with all of you as we are moving into the implementation stage of the PFM road map. May our shared endeavors enhance transparency, accountability and citizen participation in governance and lead to poverty alleviation that is felt by the common Filipino,” he added.

The PFM Reform roadmap is now moving forward into the implementation stage and looking at ways to sustain the reforms initiated. “PFMP is supporting the Philippine government to implement and institutionalize new practices and realise reform benefits,” PFMP Team Leader and DFAT Counsellor Daniel Featherston said.

Around 100 COA top executives, auditors and support staff attended the event.

Other speakers at the session were DBM Undersecretary and PFM Committee Chair Richard E. Moya who gave updates on the PFM Reforms in the Philippines and COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo who talked about Accounting and Auditing Reforms. Commissioner Fabia closed the program.

The PFM Brown Bag Session is part of a communications outreach to inform government staff about updates on the reform program. Originally, a “brown bag” refers to the packed lunch meals that participants or organizers bring along to an informal meeting held during lunch break. Over time, the term has been loosely used to refer to a short, informal meeting, training or presentation that happens in the workplace.