Monday, January 25, 2016

Bicol’s 3,471 villages to get BuB funds in 2017 —DBM
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 24 (PNA) -- The government’s Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB) is set for expansion next year to cover 42,036 barangays nationwide, including all of Bicol’s 3,471 in 107 towns and seven cities within its six provinces, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said in a statement received on Saturday by the Philippines News Agency.

The BuB will provide a subsidy of Php1 million to each barangay to be used for the implementation of one to two projects they have identified.

The program, also called the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP), is expected to aid barangays in better formulating poverty reduction action plans and monitoring the delivery of basic services in the communities.

Earlier, during his recent visit here, DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said that while all barangays are beneficiaries of the program, implementation shall be in batches.

“The first 12,000 barangays will receive funding from the national government in 2017,” Abad said, without mentioning how many in Bicol will be included.

The DILG has started national consultations with barangay captains to engage them in the discussion of the rationale, objectives and mechanics of the Barangay BuB.

The consultations will be followed by capacity-building sessions and project preparation for the first batch of barangays that will pioneer the expanded program.

The expansion of the BuB is the result of the clamor of various associations of barangay councils, civil society organizations and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).

The ULAP National Executive Board — on behalf of its member-leagues, local government units, and elected officials — passed a resolution to institutionalize BuB at the barangay level and adopted the recommendation from the leagues for its implementing guidelines.

The Liga ng mga Barangay ng Pilipinas — through its national president, Edmund Abesamis -- has expressed support for the program, calling the Barangay BuB “the highlight of the national government’s recognition of the role of barangays in governance.”

“The Barangay Bottom-Up Budgeting effectively provides life and meaning to the recognition of barangays as frontliners in governance,” Abesamis said in a statement.

“We are bringing BuB down to the grassroots level to ensure that the need for services and facilities of barangays are met. Also, by enabling barangays to implement projects which they have identified and prioritized through a process of citizen participation in planning and budgeting, we hope to improve governance at the barangay level,” Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said.

To participate in the program, each barangay league’s city and municipal president must orient all barangay chairmen within their area of jurisdiction on the program not later than Jan. 31, 2016, according to the DBM.

Afterwards, every barangay chair must convene a Barangay Development Council for orientation, conduct a planning workshop and formulate a list of priority projects for submission to the Development Academy of the Philippines, which will develop the criteria for the ranking and selection of barangays.

The BuB being applied by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

The exercise was adopted by the Aquino administration through the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster and the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster as an strategy that hopes to empower civil society organizations and citizen’s groups to engage local government and national government agencies and make them more responsive to the people’s needs.

At least 1,590 local government units have participated in the BuB program since it was implemented in 2013, according to the DBM.

There was a total of 42,221 BuB projects reported in the Open BuB Portal and of this number, 13,712 projects have been completed as of Dec. 1, 2015.

For this year, 14,325 local poverty reduction projects have been allocated, through BuB, an amount of Php24.7 billion, an increase from Php8 billion in 2013 for projects identified in 595 cities and municipalities nationwide, the DBM said.

The scheme has given the Philippine government the recognition as one of five Best Practices in Fiscal Transparency from around the world during the Open Government Partnership summit in Mexico City last November.

The Philippines was also granted the Gold Open Government Award for BuB in the inaugural OGP Awards at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in September 2014.

The country was recognized for its outstanding efforts to deepen citizen engagement in the budget process, one of the three gold awards given out to recognize innovative and citizen-driven initiatives in designing and implementing public policy.

The BuB is also being credited as one of the reforms that have helped to improve the country’s standing in global benchmarks of budget transparency.

For example, Abad said, the International Monetary Fund declared the Philippines exhibits good and advance practices in several areas of its new Fiscal Transparency Code.

Likewise, the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey for 2015 ranked the Philippines as number one in Budget Transparency in the ASEAN because of programs such as the BuB, he added. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN