February 7, 2012
ANGARA PUSHES FOR 'BUDGET LITERACY'
Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the need for more fiscal studies and analysis to aid Congress and the public in yearly deliberations held on the national budget.
During the interpellation for Senate Bill No. 2857, "An Act Institutionalizing the Participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOS) in the Preparation and Authorization Process of the Annual National Budget, Providing Effective Mechanisms Therefor, and for Other Purposes", Angara pointed out the lack of usable data that can be used as reference during budget deliberations.
"Public finance in public administration is one of the most complex, most contentious issues in government. Few pay attention and understand to it. Here in Congress, we encounter a lack of information from authoritative studies on the budget," he lamented.
Angara added that most of the time, they "play it by ear", because they are completely dependent on what the budget department proposes. "We need more information--in particular, fiscal data from budget studies to help us be more discerning and analytical in our evaluation," he said.
He also explained that while the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is capable to provide very valuable analyses and studies, it is not able to do so in a dedicated manner.
The veteran legislator suggested a provision to incentivize the setting up of non-government think tanks and organizations dedicated to fiscal, taxation and budget research.
"If we give incentives to non-government think tanks, like tax credits and tax exemptions, we may see the flowering of budget and fiscal studies in the Philippines," said Angara.
Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, also sought to establish a system of accreditation to make sure that the civil service organizations invited to the budget deliberations can productively contribute to the process, saying that even if many groups are invited to participate in the process, there will be no real value-added if they are not "budget-literate".
"There must be some process of selection and accreditation that will show that those we allow to participate in our budget proceedings are really qualified and with good intentions," he said.
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