Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Benjamin Diokno

Benjamin Diokno

Benjamin Diokno (born March 31, 1948) was Secretary of Budget and Management of the Philippines in the administration of President Joseph Estrada, from July 1998 until Estrada's ouster in January 2001. Diokno also served as Undersecretary for Budget Operations at the Department of Budget and Management, form 1986-1991, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

During the Aquino administration, Diokno provided technical assistance to several major reforms such as the design of the 1986 Tax Reform Program, which simplified income tax and introduced the value-added tax (VAT), and the 1991 Local Government Code of the Philippines.
During the Estrada administration, Diokno initiated and instituted several reforms that would enhance transparency and improve the efficiency of the delivery of government services. The first major reform instituted was the "what you see is what you get" or WYSWIG policy that is a simplified system of fund release for the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This allowed agency heads to immediately plan and contract out projects by just looking at the GAA, which is available in print and at the DBM website, without waiting for the issuance of an allotment authority. Diokno initiated the reform of the government procurement system (GPS) through the adoption of rapidly improving information and communications technology. He secured technical assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to help the GPS develop an electronic procurement system along the lines of the Canadian model. By August 1999, the DBM had two documents necessary to initiate reforms in public procurement. In early 2000, Diokno and USAID successfully concluded a substantial technical assistance program for the DBM's budget reform programs, which now included procurement reform.Other budget reforms instituted by Diokno concerned procedures for payment of accounts payable and terminal leave/ retirement gratuity benefits. The release of cash allocation were programmed and uploaded to the department's website while payments were made direct to the bank accounts of specific contractor.

The growing budget deficit was of large concern during Diokno's tenure, with the National Economic and Development Authority director citing it as the government's biggest problem. The government ended 1999 with a budget deficit of P114 billion, overshooting its target of P101 billion which had previously been increased from an original target of P68.4 billion. The government missed its target by a far wider margin the next year, set an original deficit target of P62.5 billion for 2000, yet occurring a full-year deficit of P130 billion. This is higher than the P126.5 billion "worst case scenario" figure from the International Monetary Fund.

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