MANILA – Some 40 staff from the different offices of the Department of Finance (DOF) were recently updated on the progress of key Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms and Australia’s support for their implementation through a “brown bag” session organized by the DOF, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Philippines-Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP).
PFM was the featured topic during the DOF’s weekly Friday Learning Session or FLS, a program that provides employees with the opportunity to be educated on a variety of topics that range from culture and the arts, self defense tactics, enjoying life in public service, resiliency in the workplace, gender-fair language, to public financial management.
Participants during the recently held session were comprised of staff and officers from the DOF’s Privatization Group, Fiscal Intelligence Unit, Revenue Integrity Protection Services, Municipal Development Fund Office, Central Records Management Division, Accounting Division, Central Financial Management and Budget Division, Management Services Division, and Corporate Affairs Group.
DOF Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran, a member of the PFM Committee, opened the program by stressing the importance of the reforms, and how their implementation can help the government promote transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. He encouraged the DOF staff to support the reforms, and appreciate how the PFM initiatives can help them be more effective in their jobs as public servants.
Steady progress of PFM Reforms
DBM Undersecretary Richard “Bon” E. Moya presented an update on the steady progress of the PFM, and moving the reforms from design to the implementation phase. He discussed several ongoing work such as: the development of a PFM Law, establishment of the Office of the Comptroller General, conduct of a Contingent Liabilities analysis, introduction of a PFM Certificate Program, and refinement and stabilisation of the use of the Unified Account Code Structure or UACS.
Undersecretary Moya also highlighted significant progress achieved with cash management reform over the last two years. Progress includes the adoption of a Treasury Single Account (TSA), a move to improve the quality and timeliness of information about the Government’s cash position, and the use of a Performance Informed Budget (PIB) structure to reflect government agencies’ performance indicators as an integral part of the National Budget.
He also talked about the Budget and Treasury Management System (BTMS), a modified PFM IT system that will cover the IT systems and functions of DBM and BTr for Budget Execution and Budget Accountability. BTMS is expected to go live in 2017, and will have the flexibility to be rolled out to spending agencies in the future, subject to procurement of additional user licenses and training.
“Given all these reforms are to be implemented within the present Administration, we are now expanding the membership of the PFM Committee to include the revenue agencies in the reforms such as the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” Usec. Moya added.
Daniel Featherston, PFMP Team Leader and Counsellor of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), provided an overview of Australia’s support for the Government of the Philippines, and its role in supporting the implementation of PFM reform.
“Australia and the Philippines have a long history of friendship and bilateral cooperation spanning more than 50 years, and share a common perspective on a range of development issues,” said Featherston. He added that Australia is one of the third largest bilateral grant aid partners to the country, with its official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines pegged at an estimated A$84.2 million.
Through the PFMP, the Australian government has committed A$30 million for five years (2011 to 2016), for the PFM program. PFMP works closely with the oversight agencies such as DBM, DOF, BTr and COA, spending departments, civil society and development partners, by providing them with a range of technical advice and resources in support of PFM.
“We are committed to supporting the Government’s reform efforts. The approach for the remainder of the program will be to emphasise consolidating the implementation of existing reforms, with a strong emphasis on management and the day-to-day practice of PFM,” said Featherston.
Originally, the concept of a “brown bag” session referred to a training or information session held during lunch time, where meals are packed in brown bags to maximize the time and learning opportunities for employees during their lunch break. Over time, the term has been loosely used to refer to a short and informal meeting, training, or presentation held in the work place.
Earlier this year, the PFMP also conducted Brown Bag sessions at COA and BTr. Read related stories about PFMP Brown Bag Sessions on PFM Reforms here: