Tuesday, 2 June 2009

WB, DOF, TAN sign $1.01-M grant for transparent procurement

Cai U. Ordinario
Business Mirror

The World Bank, the Department of Finance, and the Transparency and Accountability Network Foundation Inc. (TAN), a civil society anticorruption coalition, signed on Thursday a grant agreement amounting to $1.01 million to promote transparency in procurement mechanisms in poor municipalities in the country.

The grant, called Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) Grant for Improving the Quality and Responsiveness of Public Spending in Poor Communities through Localized Procurement Reform, will institutionalize participatory public-procurement processes in poor communities; localize procurement reform; and monitor evaluation and project management.

The project will be implemented by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and TAN. The funds for this capacity building grant will come from the JSDF being administered by the World Bank.

“With this grant, the government of Japan is proud to contribute to the empowerment of local communities in the Philippines and the promotion of transparency and accountability in local governance, two pillars of a strong and vibrant democracy,” said Kohei Noda, financial attaché of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, who witnessed the signing at the World Bank office in Manila.

The grant will institutionalize partnerships between local government units (LGUs) and the local communities for procurement to ensure more efficient and responsive public services in poor communities. This will be achieved through consultation with poor communities, review of community-based procurement experiences and identification of ways in which poor people can be more directly involved in local public procurement processes.

It will support training activities that target community leaders, volunteers, and members of LGU Bids and Awards Committees, and will develop training materials and guides for communities and LGUs on local procurement with a particular focus on the participation of community members and civil society organizations.

The grant builds on the success of the ongoing World Bank-funded Kalahi-CIDSS and other similar community-driven development projects in promoting more participatory and transparent decision making in poor communities which has resulted in the delivery of basic public services that are cheaper, faster, and better and with less leakage than comparable investments implemented by government agencies.

World Bank country director Bert Hofman said greater focus on governance is one of the strategic shifts in the new World Bank Country Assistance strategy for the Philippines for fiscal year 2010-12.

Hofman said that the grant will help the government improve governance by enhancing transparency in the use of public funds. He said the grant supports better governance through cooperation between civil society and government, for which the Philippines is becoming increasingly renowned. “Improving governance is critical to achieving better development outcomes and making growth work for the poor,” he said.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves welcomed the JSDF grant, saying the project will boost government efforts to fight corruption in public procurement.

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