MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched Monday the 2016 edition of the People’s Budget (PB), an annual publication aimed at making each year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) accessible to the public.
This latest edition of the PB marks six years of providing the Filipino people with a Citizens Budget, a key budget document and a measure of commitment to fiscal transparency under the Open Government Partnership, according to Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad.
“The National Budget is the most important policy document of a government. As a budget transparency practice, there must full disclosure of all relevant fiscal information to the public in accessible language and in a timely and systematic manner,” said Abad.
“Citizens Budgets have become a new global fiscal transparency standard. This is proven by the fact that more countries are now publishing Citizens Budgets – from 26 countries in 2012 to 54 in 2015,” he added.
Abad said that the Philippines’ Citizens Budget, called the People’s Budget, was launched in 2011 and has since become a model around the world for how to visualize the budget and translate fiscal information to language that citizens understand. It has been expanded from a booklet summarizing the annual GAA in 2011 to other forms and media like audio-visual presentations, social media content, and newspaper advertisements.
“The annual publication of the People’s Budget is one of the reasons the Philippines is recognized as a global leader in fiscal transparency by the latest Open Budget Survey,” Abad said.
The Philippines scored 64 out of a possible 100 points for transparency in the 2015 Open Budget Survey (OBS), a biennial survey and the world’s only independent and comparative measure of budget transparency. That score indicates that the government provides the public with substantial budget information.
“The People’s Budget is one of eight essential budget documents that must be made available to the public, according to the OBS. The OBS uses indicators to assess whether governments make these documents available to the public in a timely manner, and whether the data are comprehensive and useful,” said Francis Capistrano, head of the Strategic Communication Unit of DBM, the production team of the annual People’s Budget.
The People’s Budget features plain language and graphics-driven summaries of budget policies and reforms, macroeconomic assumptions and the fiscal program, dimensions of the national expenditure program, and priority programs and projects of the 2016 GAA, as well as citizens’ guides to the budget process.
This year’s People’s Budget will be printed in Cebuano, English, and Tagalog, while flyers summarizing the 2016 GAA will be published Ilocano, Bicolano, and Hiligaynon as well. The DBM has also published the People’s Proposed Budget since 2013, which summarizes the National Expenditure Plan.
“What started in 2011 as a simple document summarizing the year’s GAA through plain language and graphics has evolved into a multimedia initiative that promotes inclusiveness in budgeting. As a result, we have managed to greatly improve our ranking in the Open Budget Index and we also scored higher than the average for countries from Southeast Asia,” added Capistrano.
“For the last three years, we’ve used feedback from consultations with different sectors to improve the way we present the Budget. We’ve also been working hard to institutionalize the People’s Budget beyond this Administration, so that the National Budget will always be accessible to Filipinos,” Capistrano said.
Starting Monday, the 2016 People’s Budget is available here. DBM also announced that physical copies of the People’s Budget will be available within the next month. Citizens interested in receiving a copy can request one through firstname.lastname@example.org.