A private sector think tank said Congress should approve a higher budget for the digitalization of the bureaucracy next year to improve productivity and efficiency in the delivery of government services.
In a recent forum with the topic “Fighting the Pandemic of Corruption”, Prof. Dindo Manhit, president of Stratbase ADR Institute, said digital technology has proven its value as a productivity tool for communication, collaboration and efficiency.
"Our government must now harness digital technologies as a weapon against corruption. Fast development of our digital infrastructure now becomes a critical element of our recovery strategy," said Manhit.
Manhit said, however, that in the final budget proposal submitted by the Department of Budget and Management to Congress, the Department of Information and Communication Technology was only allocated a budget of P11 billion for 2021, about the same as this year and a big reduction from the latter's proposed P44.6 billion mainly to fund the country’s digital transformation.
In its proposal in July, the DICT said that of the P44.6 billion budget, P22.1 billion will be allotted to improve the country’s Wi-Fi and broadband infrastructures and develop e-platform and online systems to support the e-governance initiatives of different departments.
Another P11.7 billion will be allocated for digital government initiatives and P10.2 billion for digital workforce and digital education.
Data show that of DICT’s request of P22 billion for digital government and digital education and workforce program, only P2.5 billion was approved by the DBM.
Manhit said this is a far cry from President Rodrigo Duterte’s budget message that the government would allocate P21.4 billion for the government’s overall digital transformation in 2021.
At a recent virtual forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute in partnership with Transparency International Philippines and Democracy Watch, Dr. Francisco Magno, trustee and program convenor of Stratbase ADR Institute and senior fellow at De La Salle Institute of Governance said "the lack of digital tools is a real constraint for the government to address the distribution of relief services. So, the thing about digitizing is that you really need data.”
“We should definitely go digital, and we need to invest in Internet connectivity, all the digital equipment needed. Digital technology is important, plus the database that is needed,” Magno said.
Last month, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Anti-Red Tape Authority, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Department of Health and Food and Drug Administration issued a joint memorandum circular to remove five prerequisites for the construction of passive telecommunications towers and reduce the timeline of permit issuance from 200 days to only 16 days.