‘Agile and responsive bureaucracy’

‘Agile and responsive bureaucracy’

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman (MSN courtesy)

The intended “rightsizing of the government” as proposed by the Department of Budget and Management aims, following the blueprint of the agency, to “reduce the number of government agencies.”

This will save, in the department’s preliminary view, around P14.8 billion in personnel services.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman has clarified the five percent she previously mentioned is just an example of a scenario but chased that with the line the plan for a more compact and effective bureaucracy was being refined for presentation to the House of Representatives and the Senate before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appears before Congress on July 25 for his first State of the Nation Address or SONA.

Pangandaman had said the rightsizing plan’s “overarching objective was to have a small bureaucracy that is agile and responsive in the modern era.”

“This program will fix those agencies that have repetitive functions or overlapping functions.”

There are some who are quick to the draw and have said this will mean those removed from their posts will join the ranks of the jobless and the unemployed, which would only become a burden yet once more to the government.

Such narrowmindedness, such myopia indeed.

They have apparently glossed over the premises, the logic behind the plan which will determine which of the 187 government agencies — including firms owned and managed by the government which employs more than 2 million people — will be merged, revamped, or abolished.

Pangandaman said the savings from the rightsizing could be used to support more significant initiatives like the development of badly needed infrastructure, social services, health-related programs, and agriculture.

If by Pangandaman’s preliminary estimate, “five percent is affected by the program, the equivalent is P14.8 billion per year” the government would be able to save from personnel services.

But Pangandaman could not say at this point which government agencies would be affected.

On the side, while we are observing developments, we take immediate exception to criticisms that the planned rightsizing would only aggravate unemployment, with millions taken off their employment seats and tables.

We believe some, duly qualified, can be absorbed in other agencies, while others who are on the doorsteps of retirement, may be retired and given their retirement benefits. What’s wrong with that?

If a person continues to receive salaries from the government even when that person does not have the qualifications for the job or when the person is already retirable, that is definitely wrong.

What is difficult to understand is why some, and not just a few thousand, would be receiving wages from people’s taxes while their functions overlap with other tasks in other agencies.

We support the view of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez that this DBM effort deserves the endorsement of Congress. His words: “In fact, the legislature should match it with a similar undertaking.”

Rodriguez, a former law dean in Metro Manila, believes several redundant councils, offices, task forces as well as other executive and legislative formations might be combined or abolished without compromising the operation of other agencies.

Rodriguez said: “Just look at the annual budget and you will find that there are councils and offices in many departments that overlap or duplicate the functions of the bureaus or agencies under these departments.”

He stressed the legislators “should reduce or deny appropriations to offices the executive branch wants to phase out or merge.”

Well said.


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