Less than a quarter of projects under the government’s Bottom-Up-Budgeting (BUB) program have been completed in the last two years, according to an independent report that assessed the Aquino administration’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership.
The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Progress Report 2013 to 2015 released on Saturday showed that only 23 percent of BUB projects started in 2013 was completed.
The completion rate of those initiated in 2014 was more dismal: one percent.
Bottom-Up Budgeting is a scheme where local government units and people’s organizations nominate projects for funding by the national government.
Only 25 percent of the projects that were started in 2013 and only four percent of those started in 2014 are ongoing, indicating a high attrition rate.
Meantime, the IRM report lamented the exclusion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that for decades has been mired in abject poverty.
The ARMM was excluded because of the expected enactment of a law creating a new autonomous government in the region that would have received an annual block grant of 2.4 percent of the national tax collection, a Special Development Fund worth P17 billion and a P1 billion transition fund.
“The exclusion of such a large population and attached budget undermines the spirit of a citizen-driven bottom up budgeting program and limits the overall potential impact of the commitment,” the IRM report pointed out.
The ARMM is the poorest of the country’s 17 regions with 103 LGUs and a population of 4.3 million. In 2015, the ARMM was allocated a budget of P24 billion.
Budget Undersecretary Richard Moya said the program’s below par performance should not come as a surprise.
“The challenge is expected. When you introduce something new, it’s not in the muscle memory . . . But it doesn’t mean you should stop,” Moya said during the IRM report launch.
He believes that the next administration should continue the BUB’s implementation.
The IRM Progress Report used the following indicators in assessing the Aquino government’s performance: transparency in national government plan and budget supporting legislation on access to information and whistleblower protection; engagement in civil society in public audit; enhancing performance benchmarks for local governance; enhancing Philippine procurement system; strengthening grassroots participation in local planning and budgeting; providing government data in single portal and open format; initiatives on fiscal transparency in the extractive industry and improvement on the ease of doing business.
The BUB budget in 2014 was P405 million but was slashed to P3.3 million in 2015. For the current fiscal year, the program was given P18 billion, including P6 billion for road projects.