PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY- Good Governance and the Rule of Law

Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

The delivery of public services must be prompt and adequate to citizens’ needs. Cumbersome government procedures slow down the delivery of public service and increase transaction costs. The same arduous government processes also provide the venues for corruption, given the natural tendency to avoid the bureaucratic red tape. The Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007 already requires national departments, agencies, and LGUs to set up their respective service standards known as Citizen’s Charters (CCs), to simplify procedures, and to facilitate transactions. As of August 30, 2010, 74 percent of agencies (4,253 of 5,716) nationwide had complied with the drafting and promulgation of CCs. As a means to develop citizens’ awareness of their rights vis-à-vis government and encouraging citizens’ criticisms when aggrieved, this is one step towards cutting red tape and reducing corruption. However, this is unlikely to be sufficient.

Impersonal online services can reduce the face-to-face transactions that typically provide the occasion for extortion and corruption, and some agencies have provided such services. These include the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The government has also selected 120 LGUs to become “Sparkplugs for Governance and Economic Development” by, among others, streamlining their business permit and licensing system to reduce opportunities for bribery and other forms of corruption.7 These reforms need to be harmonized and well- established, however, for significant results to be achieved. Moreover, in the “Ease of Doing Business” index, the Philippines remained in the bottom fifth of the economies surveyed (rank 148 out of 183 economies surveyed).8

Various initiatives have also been undertaken to provide a more competitive compensation system in the government to improve the economic wellbeing of civil servants and raise their morale, with a view to better service provision. The pay of government personnel covered by the Compensation and Position Classification under RA 6758, as amended, was adjusted in 2007 and 2008 through an additional 10 percent increase in basic monthly salaries.

To rationalize the Government Compensation and Position Classification System, a Joint Resolution of Congress was passed in 2009 increasing the salaries of government workers by an average of 50 percent over four years. Increases in compensation were implemented to continually uplift the living standards and welfare of government employees. The new pay package aims to attract more qualified and upright people to work for government, address the compensation gap between the public and private sectors, and encourage qualified incumbents to stay longer in public service. It puts a premium on positions with more complex and difficult tasks and greater responsibilities. It also eliminates the overlapping of salaries between consecutive salary grades. Meanwhile, this effort is always threatened and undermined by legislation seeking to provide higher pay for specific agencies.

The integrity of the civil service has been perennially undermined by appointments based on political accommodation rather than on merit and fitness, a phenomenon that is partly an offshoot of the president’s vast powers of appointment and discretion. This is true across the board but particularly in third-level positions and in the appointment of teachers, police, and treasurers. The eligibility requirement is only weakly enforced in the career executive service, in which 47 percent of the occupied positions are held by noneligible individuals.

Local governments confront rising public expectations regarding the delivery of services. Despite almost two decades of implementation of the 1991 Local Government Code (LGC), however, local governments still face various challenges in the exercise of their devolved service delivery functions. Foremost among these is the raising of sufficient funds for local development. A majority of the local governments still lack the ability or the will to raise adequate local revenues. LGUs have become unduly dependent on Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) transfers from the national government and have failed to manage their financial resources effectively and sustainably. These persistent issues are a significant hurdle in the realization of the goals of local autonomy and devolution through good local governance and effective service delivery. Owing to loopholes in the LGC, as well as the lack of capacities of local governments in assuming devolved functions, national government agencies (NGAs) continue to deliver certain services despite the transfer of these services to the local governments. The confused and overlapping performance of functions compromises the lines of accountability for local services.

The size and scope of the bureaucracy has expanded through time and has led to overlaps and redundancies in functions and operations of departments/ agencies. The executive branch pursued a rationalization program in 2004, but this remains uncompleted. As of December 31, 2010, 177 (82%) of the 216 departments/ agencies, other executive offices (OEOs) and GOCCs have submitted their Rationalization Plans (RPs) to the DBM, of which 85 have been approved. The abolition of 15,485 regular, contractual, or casual positions has resulted in savings in Personal Services (PS) amounting to PhP2.39 billion annually, while on the other hand incentives and terminal-leave benefits paid to those retiring or separated from government service amounted to PhP1.396 billion.

As long as staffing in some agencies is excessive and redundant, and the quality of existing personnel is poor, there will be political resistance and public cynicism about across-the-board attempts to improve the pay and morale of the civil service. On the other hand, RPs needs to consider the real needs of front-line agencies especially in promoting the rule of law. While a “scrap and build” policy is sensible for addressing the internal structure, it cannot address the emerging personnel resource gaps to respond to increasing population and demand for higher-quality service delivery.  http://www.neda.gov.ph/PDP/2011-2016/governance.pdf

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