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The World Bank Group headquarters buildings in Washington, D.C. (Photo: AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons)

WB calls for Philippines’ digital network development

The World Bank reported that improvements in the country’s digital infrastructure will increase efficiency in government services and prevent corruption. 

After the World Bank (in cooperation with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)) recently assessed the state of the Philippine digital economy, the Bank prescribed policy recommendations to boost digital adoption, narrow the digital divide and address the new normal spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The World Bank report said government should utilize digital technology to empower its citizens while improving service delivery, as long as institutions guarantee accountability. 

According to the report, digital technologies can be used in monitoring government workers and government-funded organizations that deliver services as well as curtail absenteeism, operational inefficiencies, and corruption. 

“Digital technologies can also improve electoral accountability, help uncover election fraud, and reduce election-related violence. Automation in business regulations, citizen feedback systems, and procurement systems also reduce the risk of corruption and poor services,” the World Bank report said. 

The World Bank said the Philippines performed worse than other countries in the region in digital adoption. 

Among the country’s weaknesses were, “the fragmentation of human resources management information system (HRMIS) and government payroll across line ministries; the disconnect of online portals such as the e-custom portal to other government systems; the limitations of e-procurement systems from allowing online transactions; and the inability in the budget system to dynamically query from line ministries or financial management information systems.” 

The report recommended greater private sector participation to improve digital infrastructure and connectivity. 

Globe president Ernest Cu said he supports the recommended key reforms and policy measures to enable the Philippines to leverage digitalization for economic and social resilience, particularly in the face of the pandemic. 

He said that download speeds for fixed broadband have been improving partially due to increased capital expenditures and network improvements by telecom companies. 

Dindo Manhit, president of independent think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, said government should create an empowering policy and regulatory agenda to extensively expand access to broadband services to all Filipinos. 

“Harnessing the expertise and resources of the private sector will greatly accelerate the pace of operationalizing these technologies that we must now rely on because of the health and economic crisis,” he said.

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