On the cusp of budget transformation:the work for an inclusive budget process under the Aquino administration
The revelation of massive abuses of “pork barrel” funds has focused public attention on the budget process and the use of public funds more generally. This paper locates the source of abuse in the country’s weak and extractive political institutions, especially in the wider environment of patronage politics. Machinations used to despoil the Budget in the past—through “pork barrel” funds, reenacted budgets, congressional insertions, and the Malampaya trust fund, among others—are described and explained, with some details of their magnitudes provided. On the other hand, previous and ongoing initiatives undertaken by the Aquino administration to reform the budget process are explained. Present and planned reforms emphasize inclusion through transparency and wider citizens’ participation, as well as through improvements in government rules and procedures. Ultimately, the recent scandals are a welcome development that amplifies popular support for ongoing reforms in the budget process and encourages reformminded sections of government to take even bolder steps.
JEL: H610, B520
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