Manila, June 15, 2003  By Ted P. Torres (Star) The Department of Finance (DOF) is backing the issuance of an executive order that would set the stage for the streamlining of the government bureaucracy.

The EO would embody a framework or set of guidelines that would allow government agencies and other government entities to reduce the "sticky elements" or excise fat within their work complement.

"It is a framework which is actually part of the fiscal program of government to address the fiscal performance particularly expenditures," Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho said in a briefing. He added that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is spearheading the formulation of the framework.

The EO would likely pave the way for the different departments and agencies to outline their own streamlining program for their respective jurisdictions with the end in view of "a leaner and meaner bureaucracy."

Camacho did not say whether it would mean a reduction of personnel in bureaucracy except that the program seeks to make government more efficient and responsive without being "too costly."

Curiously, the proposed EO comes on the heels of a pending bill seeking to "corporatize"or transform the controversial Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The proposed bill, known as the National Revenue Agency or NARA, was designed to run the agency more like a private corporation governed by a board of directors.

The proposed board would appoint the president of the NARA thereby freeing it from political pressure.

Likewise, it would set revenue collection targets where failure to deliver would warrant sanctions similar to that undertake by a private corporation.

Meanwhile, the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) has initiated moves to get its members online via an electronic linkage infrastructure. Some of the members of the DBCC are the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Treasury, DBM, BIR and the finance department.

Broadly, the electronic link would allow the different agencies under the DOF to access information almost "real time" or within hours after a certain information had been inputted in the computer system of each agency. It is similar to the online infrastructure used extensively by the conglomerates, banks and other financial institutions.

"It might be the first time that the National Government will know the real fiscal position or status maybe within days rather than having to wait for four to six weeks," Camacho said.

The finance department, and in turn the National Government, would then be able to look into the revenue collection status of the BIR or the BOC, and make the right forecasts or adjustments.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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