DA Budget Monitoring
DA Budget Monitoring
Philippine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have little knowledge of the details of the national government’s budget process. They also lack the skills and information to analyze and affect the content of the budget of the national government. This is true even for CSOs who are engaged in policy advocacy. The lack of CSO engagement viz the national budget and the related lack of transparency in the budget process and content have also been linked to reported corruption tainted projects. These include the PHP 700 Million “fertilizer scam” and the PHP 2 Billion “swine scam” involving the Department of Agriculture (DA). It is within such a context that CODE-NGO embarked upon the DA Budget Monitoring Project. The project seeks to strengthen the capacity of CSOs to understand the DA budget process, so as to better equip various CSOs for budget advocacy and budget monitoring engagements within the agriculture sector. Under this project, leaders from various CSOs and DA officials have been brought together in various forums and training workshops held both at the national and regional level. These forums have raised the understanding of CSOs of the DA budget process, allowing leaders to begin strategizing for critical collaboration with the DA in preventing corruption and helping ensure the effective use of DA funds.
Management Systems International (MSI)
International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (InciteGov)
La Salle Institute of Governance (LSIG), De La Salle University
Coalition for Bicol Development (CBD)
Eastern Visayas Network of NGOs and POs (EVNet)
Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
Western Visayas Network of Social Development NGOs (WEVNet)
Of Scams and Lumpsums: The Need for Greater Participation,Transparency & Accountability in the DA Budget Process
The increasing budget for the Department of Agriculture is good news for the agriculture sector. However, there is great concern over the proper and effective use of these resources, given the scams and irregularities associated with the department in recent years.
The DA budget is highly centralized, with funding concentrated in the Ginintuang Masaganing Ani (GMA) Commodity Programs, controlled by the Office of the Secretary.DA Bureaus and Regional Field Units are only allocated funds for salaries and the most basic operating expenses. These operating units of the DA have to rely on fund transfers from the central office, mainly through the commodity programs.
The department’s budget structure provides an insight into its planning process. Programs are centrally designed without the benefit of effective consultation and feedback mechanisms. Regional field units have little flexibility in running locally designed programs. The proliferation of lump-sum budget items and difficulty in accessing budget information raises transparency issues with the DA budget. The 2007 Commission on Audit report also cites weak accountability mechanisms in some of the department’s programs.
Thus, there is great need to improve transparency and participation in the DA budget process. The following policy brief provides several recommendations towards this, in the hope of making the DA budget more responsive to the needs of the agriculture sector, especially those of small farmers and fishers.