The Philippines ranked tenth (10th) out of 117 countries for budget transparency according to results of the 2019 Open Budget Survey (OBS) conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP). The country garnered a score of 76 in the area of budget transparency.

The country also scored high in audit oversight with 89 points. Audit oversight together with legislative oversight form one of the areas assessed by the OBS.

The IBP said the OBS is the world’s only independent and comparative measure of fiscal transparency, public participation, and oversight at the central government level. The OBS evaluates three areas: public access to relevant information on key budget documents, public participation in the budget process, and assurance of budget oversight by independent legislatures and audit institutions.

New Zealand and South Africa were joint first place with a budget transparency score of 87, followed by Sweden (86), Mexico (82), Georgia (81), Brazil (81), Norway (80), and Australia (79), with the United States and Peru also scoring 76.

The Philippines also scored the highest in Southeast Asia for budget transparency and also scored higher than other Asian countries such as Japan (62) and South Korea (62).

The OBS said the legislature and the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) in the Philippines provided adequate budget oversight with a composite score of 74. Individually, the audit oversight scored 89 while the legislative oversight scored 67.

The IBP said SAIs verify the accuracy and reliability of public accounts, ensure that public funds are spent according to the law and warrant the efficiency and effectivity of public spending. The IBP also noted the role of auditors in ensuring that relevant institutions take requisite action on audit findings and remedy issues identified in audit recommendations.

The country’s Citizen Participatory Audit was given special mention as an example of proactive engagement of the public. “The Citizen Participatory Audits practiced in the Philippines, where citizens and CSOs jointly conduct audits along with the Commission on Audit, is an example of another emerging practice that directly involves program beneficiaries in audit investigations,” the OBS said.

In terms of public participation in the budget process, the country scored 31 which is significantly above the global average score of 14.