Public leaders asked to team up in developing unified policy direction for gov’t digitalization

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has called for rapid government digital transformation and urged public leaders to team up in developing a unified policy direction towards this goal.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. was very clear in his marching orders of the Bagong Pilipinas brand of governance. Government offices must rapidly integrate digital technologies across the bureaucracy to enhance the ease of doing business, streamline processes, expedite responses, and promptly deliver public services to our people,” he said in a speech delivered by Assistant Secretary Niño Raymond B. Alvina during the Development Academy of the Philippines’ (DAP) Leadership Conference on February 1, 2024.

Secretary Recto recognized the Public Management Development Program (PMDP) as an important addition to the government’s toolkit in developing a unified policy direction for the comprehensive digital transformation of public services.

The PMDP is the Philippine government’s intensive training program that provides comprehensive learning opportunities for those in public service, helping them understand the vital role government officers play in the development process.

Program participants are equipped with leadership and management skills to raise competent public servants.

It is overseen by an Inter-Agency Steering Committee composed of the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB).

The Finance Chief urged public leaders to use the program as a platform for exchanging insights and experiences to identify and implement best practices towards achieving a digitally transformed and future-proof Philippine government.

Secretary Recto said the DOF, for its part, has not only responded to the President’s call but has made substantial progress in embracing digitalization.

Both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have established electronic tax payment and filing channels along with modernized customs processes that have helped enhance tax collection and administration, strengthen trade facilitation, curb corruption, and improve the business climate in the country.

“It underpins the government’s assurance of a reliable revenue stream. More significantly, it has been instrumental in delivering on the government’s promise of efficient and excellent taxpayer service, ensuring that the hard-earned contributions of our people translate into tangible value,” the Finance Chief said.

The BIR has ramped up its Digital Transformation (DX) Program to convert the Bureau into a data-driven organization by utilizing reliable, scalable, and robust digital technologies that elevate taxpayer experience.

Some projects under the DX Program are the Online Registration and Update System (ORUS); Project 230X; Online Tax Clearance; Electronic Invoicing/ Receipting and Sales Reporting System (EIS); Enhancement of One-Time Transaction (ONETT) System; and Enhanced Digital Queueing System, among others.

The BOC, on the other hand, has digitalized 161 out of 166 customs processes, garnering a 97-percent digitalization rate.

These include the One-Stop Electronic Travel Declaration System (E-Travel System); Overstaying Cargo Tracking System; and National Customs Intelligence System (NCIS).

The Secretary added that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) digitalization program has also led to a notable increase in the number of registered corporations in the country, encouraging the continued growth of businesses.

The SEC’s initiatives include the Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Company (eSPARC), One Day Submission and Electronic Registration of Companies (OneSEC), Electronic System for Payments to the SEC (eSPAYSEC), Electronic Filing and Submission Tool (eFAST), Unified Company Database (UniComDB), and MC28 Submission Portal.

As of December 31, 2023, more than 1.2 million companies and 6 million officers/incorporators have been recorded by the SEC into its UniComDB.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of the Treasury’s (BTr) move to facilitate the buying and selling of Philippine retail treasury bonds through smartphones and digital devices has extended the benefits of financial inclusion to ordinary Filipinos.

“These examples only represent a fraction of the ongoing digital transformation initiatives within the public sector. The Marcos, Jr. administration is strongly committed to integrating such innovations into the entire government framework to help bring public services closer to the people,” Secretary Recto emphasized.

He highlighted that the end goal is to harmonize and streamline public agencies’ digitalization initiatives to ensure that the government’s main clients—the Filipino people—receive the best possible service in the most efficient manner.