“Bottom-up” approach defines 2013 budget process

A January 19, 2012 press release from the Department of Budget and Management

Secretary Abad: Pioneering framework to target poverty reduction

In line with the Aquino administration’s goal to reduce poverty and achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, the Aquino government will begin instituting a “bottom-up” approach to the ongoing 2013 budget preparation process.

“For the first time in our government’s history, we will be preparing the national budget using a breakthrough ‘bottom-up’ approach. In the past, the General Appropriations Act (GAA) was crafted from top to bottom, with state leaders and officials exclusively deciding where public funds should go,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said. “This time, however, budget preparations will be guided by needs identified at the grassroots level, so that the 2013 budget will most decidedly be a people-centric budget, aimed not just at the proper allocation of resources, but also at the substantial reduction of poverty.”

He added that the bottom-up budgeting process will focus on engaging for 300 to 400 of the poorest municipalities identified by the Cabinet’s Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) cluster. Local-level engagement will be facilitated via relevant government agencies, local community leaders, LGUs, and partner civic organizations.

According to Abad, the DBM will invite an initial set of agencies to spearhead the new approach. These have been identified as: a.) Rural Development agencies (Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, and Environment and Natural Resources) and b.) Conditional Cash Transfer Program agencies (departments of Social Welfare and Development, Education, and Health).

The agencies will combine their respective services in poor communities by taking on the prioritized list of projects and programs and incorporating these into their budget proposals for 2013.

“This new process may likewise require rural development and economic agencies to be responsible for achieving meso-economic indicators of inclusive growth –indicated, for instance, by a five percent reduction of average underemployment or hunger for the regions with the largest number of focus municipalities from 2013 to 2016,” he said.

Abad said the earlier initiation of the bottom-up planning process will ensure that the needs of the poor municipalities will be adequately funded in the 2013 budget. In the past, municipalities were required to submit public investment programs (PIPs) for the consideration of the regional development councils (RDCs) and for inclusion in line-agency budgets.

“The problem with the previous system was that proposals for PIPs were often conveyed to the agencies in July, during which the President’s Budget is already being finalized for submission to Congress. Now that we’ve begun the bottom-up approach at a much earlier time, we can give the poorest communities sufficient leeway to communicate their needs and have their requirements effectively accounted for in the proposed budget,” he said.

Abad added that the bottom-up approach will be complemented by the expanded engagement of civil society organizations (CSOs) and people’s groups in the budget process. At least 12 government departments and six agencies will initiate consultation sessions with CSOs to boost citizen participation in crafting the 2013 budget.

He also said that economic growth in the country must be more inclusive, especially in areas where growth is neither high enough nor sufficiently robust.

“The Aquino Administration is committed to fulfilling its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), on top of which is the target to reduce extreme poverty by half, from 33.1 percent in 1991 to 16.6 percent by 2015. We intend to translate the gains of good governance into direct, immediate, and substantial benefits that will not only improve the lot of the poor and marginalized, but empower them as well,” Abad said.