Secretary Abad on Open Government.14May2012


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Secretary Abad on Open Government.14May2012

  1. 1. Keynote Speech: World Bank Country Assistance Strategy Stakeholder Dialogue14 May 2012Core Messages and Logic Flow: 1. We participated in the Open Government Partnership not because we are claiming that we are a global exemplar of reform and innovation in governance (for we just came from a dark phase). Rather, we took the invitation to lead in OGP because this administration is sincere in its agenda of cleaning-up the government and then transforming the way it works. 2. This sincerity stems from the way President Aquino won by a resounding mandate in the May 2010 elections. With how the people have phenomenally drafted him, President Aquino’s administration is deeply predisposed to open, transparent and accountable governance. His Social Contract with the Filipino—kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap—seeks to a) restore trust in government; b) strengthen integrity and results- delivery of public institutions; and c) build a constituency for reform. 3. In line with the Social Contract’s cross-cutting objective of good governance, we have a Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster Plan 2012-2016, developed by the GGAC Cluster which the President chairs. This plan pursues the strategic objectives of a) curbing corruption, b) improving public service delivery and c) enhancing competitiveness. Our formula for success is open government, is Daylight: through initiatives that institute a) transparency, b) accountability and c) citizen’s engagement. 4. Two years into this administration, we have seen significant gains in our fight for good governance and anti-corruption. However, we constantly encounter key issues which hamper our progress: a) execution and compliance issues (e.g. infrastructure, fiscal transparency compliance); b) a shallow leadership bench within the bureaucracy; and c) resistance to reform by the entrenched parallel systems. We need to seriously consider these issues as we discuss the new Country Assistance Strategy. 5. We need to put People Power back on track. This “transition government” will succeed if we are able to establish irreversible reforms: reforms that institutionalize People Power. 1CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM
  2. 2. Talking Points:A. Introduction: Our Participation in OGP 1. I wish to laud the World Bank for pursuing a multi-stakeholder process in developing its Country Assistance Strategy. It’s in the right direction toward a Strategy that is relevant and responsive to our government’s development plan and, more importantly, to the needs of our people. 2. This is precisely the pursuit of the Open Government Partnership, which the Philippine government participates in. It’s a new multilateral and multi- stakeholder initiative that believes that things are better when open. It seeks to encourage governments to make concrete commitments to stretch their practice of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement. 3. OGP is an opportunity to learn more about new and exciting governance trends around the globe. It is also a venue for us to benchmark against our peers and to take in praises and criticisms from stakeholders. Last month, we had our first Annual Meeting in Brazil. There, we were admired for our pioneering efforts in bottom-up budgeting; and our attention was called for not yet having a Freedom of Information Act. We get a lot from OGP: not just additional knowledge but also a little more pressure on us to perform. 4. We participated in OGP—and we took the invitation to be a co-founder of this new initiative—not because we are claiming that we are a global exemplar of open government. Rather, we took the invitation to lead in OGP because this administration is sincere in its agenda of transformation.B. The Special Nature of PNoy’s Presidency and his Social Contract 1. The Aquino Administration is deeply predisposed to this agenda of transformation towards openness and empowerment, because it is by this spirit that it was installed to power. President Aquino won by a resounding mandate—he was, in the first place, drafted by the people to run—as if via People Power: this time, not through street protest but through the formal but treacherous arena of electoral politics. 2CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM
  3. 3. 2. The People drafted him to carry the banner of reducing poverty through honest and effective governance: “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” This Social Contract with the Filipino People is premised on this spirit of People Power: the people must be freed from the shackles of hopelessness, and empowered to take control of their very lives. 3. At the core of this Social Contract are three imperatives of empowerment, and the first is to restore the people’s trust in government. It involves not only the pursuit of high-profile corruption cases but also ensuring that resources are mediated effectively towards improving the lives of the poor. 4. This leads to the second imperative: strengthening public institutions to deliver results with impact. Delivering results with impact makes institutional and bureaucratic reforms necessary. I stress that an important aspect of this is strengthening the capacity of the bureaucracy as advocates for reform. Let me get back to that point later on. 5. The third imperative of empowerment involves building a consolidated constituency for reform. Here is where we assert that government cannot succeed unless it adopts a new paradigm of openness and unless it deepens its engagement with civil society, people’s organizations, businessmen and professionals, development partners and other stakeholders.C. The Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Plan 2012-2016 1. We have a plan to put this agenda for empowerment to action. In line with the Social Contract’s cross-cutting objective of good governance, this government developed the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster Plan 2012-2016. For your reference, we distributed some booklets on this. 2. This Plan follows a strategic framework that focuses on the objectives of curbing corruption, improving the delivery of public services and enhancing competitiveness. To meet these objectives, we have lined-up programs, projects and initiatives that put the three pillars of open government— transparency, accountability and citizen’s engagement—to action 3CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM
  4. 4. 3. How do we define these pillars? Transparency means the government’s active disclosure of what it does, how it spends and other information that matter to the public; as well as providing meaningful access of citizens to information. Our roadmap for escalating public access to information includes the legislation of a Freedom of Information Act, setting-up of enabling systems such as the Single Portal for Government Information, and setting-up other mechanisms to improve compliance of government agencies with transparency standards, such as disclosure of their budgets. 4. We define accountability as the adherence of government to standards of integrity, as well as aligning government to measurable performance goals, specifically in resource management, driving results in the bureaucracy and efficient frontline services. Just to give a sample of initiatives under this pillar, we are currently developing a Government Integrated and Financial Management System, an important component of our broader Public Financial Management reform. 5. Last but not the least, we are pursuing deeper Citizen’s Engagement by creating wider spaces for the participation of organized citizens in governance; as well as forging partnerships with key constituencies such as CSOs, business, academe, among others. This pillar includes our plan to deepen CSO engagement in the budget preparation process, as well as our experiment into bottom-up budgeting. By the way, our commitment is to not only to deliver these initiatives but to undertake an inclusive process of evaluating our performance and planning the next steps.D. Key Issues which Hamper our Progress 1. Two years into this administration, we have seen significant gains in our fight for good governance and anti-corruption: and these do not just include putting GMA in jail and impeaching Chief Justice Corona. However, we will be sincere enough to admit that we constantly encounter key issues which hamper our progress. We need to seriously consider these issues as we discuss the new Country Assistance Strategy of World Bank. 4CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM
  5. 5. 2. The first set of issues pertains to the weak ability of government agencies to implement their mandates and comply with governance standards. a. For instance, we have a commitment under the GGAC Plan and our OGP Country Action Plan to improve the compliance of agencies with the disclosure of their budget information. Until now, compliance is low. b. Of course, government has been taken to task for the slowdown in public infrastructure spending last year. Here’s the dilemma: if we kept operations in “business-as-usual,” then funds will really be spent fast, but as fast as water from the faucet goes right down the drain. We need quality institutions that ensure to maximum impact for each peso spent. 3. This leads to the second set of issues: the shallow bench of capable leaders and the weak technical capacity in the bureaucracy. a. Government is unable to attract and keep the best people because of compensation. Moreover, I have seen many public servants who are sincerely focused on doing their work well, but have been pushed to the sidelines because they do not want to compromise their higher-ups, and there’s no mechanism for evaluating and incentivising performance. That is why we are crafting a Results-Based Performance Management System for the government and an incentives system linked to that. b. We also need to help them deal with tedious, repetitive yet necessary work. This is why we are pursuing digitization to not only improve information and process flows, but also to make life easier for them. 4. The last set of issues refers to the resistance of entrenched interests and parallel systems to reform or to any change for that matter. a. As Dr. Robert Klitgaard would illustrate it, corruption thrives in parallel systems that operate in a “mafia-like” manner around the formal structures of government. These will resist and violently fight any reform that will compromise their modus operandi. Of course, resistance is not only motivated by corruption, but also by the simple desire of some civil servants to not change the way they work, especially if they do not see an immediate, personal benefit from that change. 5CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM
  6. 6. b. This is where I stress that while we need to ensure the policy or technical correctness of the reforms that we pursue, we also need to attend to the political management of reform. Government cannot solve corruption and pursue reform effectively on its own. It will need allies.E. Conclusion: Putting People Power Back on Track 1. The past 21 months of this administration have indeed been difficult, but we seem to be getting it right: President Aquino continues to enjoy unprecedented levels of satisfaction. But the critical transition period isn’t just the past 21 months: it is the whole term of President Aquino. 2. We envision that at the end of this administration, we will be able to turn over a significantly better government, a more dampened poverty situation and a more competitive economy that the next President can build upon. Will we succeed? Will our reforms bear fruit? That is our daily struggle. 3. I believe that we will only succeed if we constantly attune ourselves to the very core and nature of this Presidency: that he won in May 2010 as if by People Power, this time not through the extra-constitutional arena of street protest but through the formal yet treacherous arena of the elections. 4. If we were to sustain the historical continuum of People Power—which began with his Father who died in the hands of the dictatorship, to his Mother who nurtured our fledgling democracy and restored its formal institutions—then the mission of this Presidency, their Son, is to institutionalize People Power by opening the halls of power to the people. 5. Under President Aquino’s leadership, we have a great chance to move our country from transition towards the irreversible path to prosperity. The challenge that we will face together today will be about delivering the big and fast results and ensuring the sustainability of reform. Thank you. 6CAS_Abad.docCreated by FYC as of 6/20/2012 6:10 PM