Apec Finance Ministers eye digitalization to boost fiscal sector
Finance ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) are looking at digitalization to bolster fiscal policy and tax collection as they gathered in Bangkok to discuss the economic and financial outlook across the member markets of the trade bloc.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he and his counterparts in 20 other Apec member-countries also discussed the macroeconomic and structural policies that must be undertaken to support inclusive growth despite ongoing global challenges.
They have gathered for the 29th Apec Finance Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Thailand.
“In my [turn to speak], I shared the Philippines’ efforts to digitalize the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs,” Diokno said.
“Our electronic systems enabled us to grow our revenue collections and even exceed our targets despite mobility restrictions during the pandemic,” he added.
In a statement, Thailand’s Minister of Finance Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the gathering reiterated their commitment to implement flexible fiscal policies to support inclusive economic growth and job creation.
Arkhom said the ministers pledged to use all available policy tools—monetary, fiscal and structural—individually and collectively, to manage inflationary pressures and steer the global economy back to its growth path.
Cebu Action Plan
Aside from digitization, the meeting also pushed for sustainable finance and the implementation of the Cebu Action Plan.
Adopted in 2015 during a meeting hosted by the Philippines, the plan is a voluntary and nonbinding 10-year road map to build a more financially integrated, transparent, resilient and connected Apec community.
“Ministers also pledged to not adjust exchange rates for competitive purposes, highlighting that strong fundamentals and sound policies are essential to the stability of the international monetary system,” Arkhom said.
Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the proposed 2023 national budget law included P12.47 billion for information, communication and technology (ICT) as well as digitalization programs and projects.
Pangandaman said this included the improvement of revenue collection through digitalization, with the Department of Finance receiving an allocation of P3.56 billion.
“In support of the administration’s thrust for a lean, efficient, and responsive government workforce–the Fiscal Year 2023 Proposed National Budget will facilitate the transformation and digitalization of the government to streamline the bureaucracy,” she said.
The Budget chief added that the Department of Information and Communication Technology was allocated P4.72 billion for its ICT Systems and Infrastructure Development, Management and Advisory Program. It includes funding for the implementation of the National Government Data Center Infrastructure and the National Government Portal to connect government departments and improve accessibility.
Pangandaman said that digitalizing the public financial management systems would help strengthen the integrity of public financial systems, diminish human discretion, expedite inter-agency coordination and ensure the efficient delivery of public services.
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