Philippines

Alternative Budget, Fiscal Year 2014

Social Watch Philippines, 2013.

Thousands march against
pork barrels.
(Photo: VoA)

“The abolition of the pork barrel system should be total” said Leonor Briones, lead convenor Social Watch Philippines, to a Congressional committee in Manila, bringing to legislators the message that hundreds of thousands of people had reaffirmed in the streets during marches against corruption in the previous days.

“Pork barrel” is the popular name of a system that allows members of parliament the direct allocation of budget funds to pet projects in their constituencies. Some “pork barrel amount to the equivalent of four million dollars a year.

The president himself manages a “pork barrel fund” of some 500 million dollars and several items of the Special Purpose Funds (SPF) in the national budget for 2014. “SPFs breed corruption. How can Congress scrutinize the SPF when there is no detail? It is just one chart in the budget documents and one line in the summary papers,” SWP said Briones.

"Citizen monitoring and accountability of governments, corporations and international institutions are essential for a new development agenda to succeed".

Roberto Bissio, Coordinator of Social Watch, shares his reflections on the Social Watch Philippines' National Consultation on the High Level Report on the Post 2015 Agenda.

This year Social Watch Philippines and the Alternative Budget Initiative or ABI will particularly scrutinize the Priority Development Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” and the transfers and allocations for the government’s Special Purpose Funds. Department allocations will also be assessed by the Initiative, particularly the allocations for health, education, agriculture, social welfare and the environment.

It’s that time of the year again when Congress debates and finalizes the National Budget for 2014. Budget hearings, pork barrels, agency allocations and special purpose funds will be, or should be, buzzwords in media for the next few months.

Prof. Leonor Briones.
(Photo: SW)

After President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22, PNoy’s proposed budget for 2014 will be under scrutiny in a forum to be held at the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance Assembly Hall. SW Coordinating Committee Co-chair, Former National Treasurer and budget expert Professor Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones will be the guest speaker in the forum.

Entitled “#Kabataan Roadtrip: Sa’n na Tayo Nakarating, Sa’n na Tayo Papunta?”, the public forum will focus on the government’s allocations and priorities for the youth. It is primarily organized by UP Samahan Tungo sa Progresibong Administrasyon (UP STPA), a socio-academic organization of public administration students of UP NCPAG. They are partnered with Social Watch Philippines, the People’s Public Finance Institute, the Alternative Budget Initiative, PALS NCPAG and the University Student Council.

The Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 4.7 per cent since 2000, but only the elite few are benefiting. In the meantime, poverty has increased, reaching to 26.5% in 2009. It is not so much the size of the economic growth, but its nature that matters. This Southeast Asian country must craft a post-2015 development agenda that reclaims human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to education, health and decent work, and addressing the long-standing inequalities. This includes completing the agrarian reform, imposing a progressive taxation system and revitalizing the manufacturing sector to ensure the creation of quality jobs. A new international financial architecture is required to provide adequate policy space for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda.
Members of the Alternative Budget
Institute (ABI), a consortium of 60
non-governmental organizations
led by Social Watch Philippines,
called on citizens to vote only for
candidates supporting the MDGs.
(Photo: ABI-ENVI)

The Philippines needs a post-2015 development agenda that reclaims human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to education, health and decent work, and addressing the long-standing inequalities, concludes the report 2013 of Social Watch-Philippines. Economic growth averaged 4.7 per cent a year since 2000 in this South Asian country, but only the elites harvested the benefits, while poverty increased to reach more than one of every four Filipinos, says the study.

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