MANILA, Nov 17 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday vowed to assist local budget officers and public financial managers as the national government pushes to implement full devolution.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman during a busy department meeting. (DBMgovph Facebook Page Photo)

DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman made this commitment in a speech during the Visayas Area Conference of the Philippine League of Local Budget Officers (PHILLBO) held in Tacloban City, Leyte.

“The DBM is always ready to assist you, especially as we move towards full devolution,” she said, citing their “crucial role” in helping local government units (LGUs) achieve bureaucratic efficiency and sound fiscal management.

She described local budget officers and public financial managers as “transformational leaders” that embody accountability, transparency, integrity, and fiscal responsibility.

“You are our trusted agents in the realization of our vision of economic transformation that is inclusive to all Filipinos and is sustainable for future generations,” she added.

To facilitate the devolution of functions to the localities, Pangandaman said the national government’s proposed PHP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 provides allocations to empower LGUs in delivering the services that have been devolved to them.

She said this includes the PHP28.9 billion Local Government Support Fund (LGSF), on top of the PHP820.3 billion indicative just share of the LGUs from the 2023 national tax collections.

Pangandaman said the national government has introduced a range of budget process reforms aimed at strengthening public financial management.

One of these budget reforms is the plan to institutionalize the Cash-Based Budgeting System (CBS), which aims to promote fiscal discipline and improved operational planning and execution of the government’s programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) by limiting the obligation of funds to one year.

She said the government is also pushing for the passage of a Budget Modernization Bill that aims to strengthen fiscal discipline in the allocation and use of budget resources by ensuring that every peso budgeted by the government would lead to the actual delivery of programs and projects.

Citizen participation

Meanwhile, the Budget chief also underscored the agency’s push for another reform meant to instill transparency and public participation, namely the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP).

“This provides an avenue for genuine citizen participation in government processes and a platform for collaboration between champions and movers in government alongside active non-government actors,” she said.

Pangandaman, who is also chair of the PH-OGP Steering Committee, assured that the DBM is committed to continuing efforts to energize civic space, open up public institutions and strengthen digital governance.

The Visayas Area Conference, hosted by the PHILLBO in coordination with the DBM, aims to enhance the transformational leadership competencies of local budget officers and other local budgeting practitioners.

The three-day event themed “Local Budget Officers: Transformational Leaders for a More Inclusive and Sustainable Public Financial Management,” covers discussion of relevant topics, such as the Implementation of Devolution Transition Plans, Regional Vision Sharing of Party-List Representatives based in Region 8, Collaboration Techniques (Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable), and Growth Mindset.

Executive Order No. 138, issued by former President Duterte in June 2021, orders the full devolution of certain functions of the executive branch of the government to LGUs in line with the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier directed the review of functions that should be devolved to LGUs and that should remain with the national government as well as the possible extension of the period for the devolution of some functions up to 2027. (MNS)