ARTA will seek an additional 40 million pesos in the 2023 budget to fund field offices

The Anti-Bureaucracy Authority (ARTA) has said that it will offer an additional P40 million in its 2023 budget to support its field offices and to procure vehicles.

ARTA’s OIC and Deputy Director General Ernesto V. Perez said in a Viber message that the funds will support “the cluster’s eight Regional Field Offices for the implementation of activities…and an additional budget under the general management and supervision, in particular for the purchase of motor vehicles”.

According to ARTA’s 2018-2022 Achievement Report posted on its website, the agency’s 2022 budget was 289.36 million pesos.

“Given the limited (fiscal space), the full potential of (ARTA) to launch various anti-bureaucracy initiatives to achieve more results is quite limited. With additional funding, ARTA will be able to launch more programs, projects and other initiatives to accelerate the government’s efforts to improve the country’s business climate and provide needed services to Filipinos in the way most effective and efficient,” he said.

As the previous administration drew to a close, Perez said ARTA abandoned its original plan to request additional funds in its 2022 budget. Instead, ARTA opted to include the request supplementary budget in the 2023 budget proposal to the Directorate of Budget and Management (DBM) for inclusion in the 2023 national expenditure program.

“In March 2022, to augment ARTA’s General Appropriation Act (GAA) approved budget for FY 2022, ARTA planned to request supplementary budget to support the implementation of various programs, activities and projects and regional offices of ARTA in the amount of 40 million pesos to the Office of the President (OP) offered to come from the President’s emergency fund,” Mr. Perez said.

“However, given that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term was set to end on June 30, 2022 and the election period/ban would limit the release of funds if ever, ARTA did not give following the supplementary budget request to the OP,” he added.

If approved by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., “we hope to make our regional offices in the field fully operational. Additionally, we hope that (Mr. Marcos) will approve our budget proposal which will facilitate the continued implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Act (EoDB),” Mr. Perez said.

ARTA said it would also submit a proposal to the PO, through the DBM, to expand the workforce to at least 700 workers.

“(ARTA) is responsible for overseeing approximately 10,173 priority government agencies in the country, not including 42,046 barangays. At the end of December 2021, (ARTA) only had a total staff of 182 people. Of this figure, 124 or 60% are regular employees out of the 208 plantilla positions available and 58 are service contract workers,” he said.

“ARTA’s current plantilla of 208 is not sufficient to meet the growing demand for ARTA’s programs and services,” he added.

ARTA is also seeking additional powers to subpoena, convict, and order the preventive suspension of officials under investigation, to ensure proper enforcement of the EoDB Act. Currently, ARTA’s streamlining efforts are only recommendations and not obligations. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Denise W. Whigham