Editorial: Breaking down the budget-A A +A
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
IN THE next few months, we can expect to hear many pledges of reform and promises of support from those seeking office in the May 2013 elections.
But it’s what will happen in the next few weeks that will decide how well (or how poorly) public services will be delivered next year.
In the first week of October, public attention will focus on the filing of certificates of candidacy. A quieter, yet no less significant, event next month also bears watching: the submission of their proposed 2013 budgets by the mayors and governors. The first event will be a declaration of intent; the latter, a demonstration of will.
Given the shifting political alliances in both Cebu City and Province, it appears likely that neither Mayor Michael Rama nor Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will find it easy to get the budgets they want for next year. The bigger question for us taxpayers and voters should be how closely the budgets they propose match our communities’ most urgent needs.
Commuters who have had to wade into dirty floodwater may find some relief in the National Government’s decision to set aside P6.9 billion next year as “quick response funds” in case of disasters. No doubt they’d be even more interested to find out how their city plans to approach the flooding problem and just how much of next year’s budget will be dedicated to it.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) recently launched a website that presents the proposed 2013 budget. Through it, we learn that local governments will get P318.1 billion as their share in tax collections next year. Likewise, we learn that the regions will get 49 percent of the national budget.
“We believe the technological innovations enable speedier and more transparent processes,” President Benigno Aquino III said in his budget message. The site, www.BudgetNgBayan.com, also allows readers to comment, using Facebook. It is this feature that shows how greater government transparency can be leveraged to press for improvements in the quality of public services. At the very least, it provides citizens with the space and opportunity to question government’s spending priorities.
We hope our local governments follow the DBM’s lead in this initiative. It is, indeed, interesting to know how local governments have spent development funds and pork barrel handouts. They can take a step further, and allow citizens to compare their declared priorities with the priorities revealed in their budgets.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 05, 2012.