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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

THE Department of Budget and Management announced the release of P4.83 billion to cover the retirement benefits of 54,660 retirees of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which has made the switch from check to electronic payments for monthly pension releases. 

The total release will support pension payments for retired policemen from January to March 2013. 

“Even as we aim to give proper budgetary support to our retired policemen, we also want to ensure that their pension payments are made in a transparent and accountable way. Our transition to electronic payments for distributing the monthly pension allows us to preserve the accuracy and timeliness of the pension payments, so that retirees can claim their set monthly payments more quickly and efficiently,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said. 

Abad also said that the use of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) for pension payments—instead of the traditional check payment—has enabled the government to weed out fictitious or “ghost” entries from the PNP pensioner database. He added that electronic banking will also prevent fraudulent accounts, since the creation of an ATM account will require a personal appearance and valid identification documents from a prospective account holder. 

As of December 31, 2012, the PNP has documented 63,465 retirees, of which 54,660 entries have already been verified and enrolled in ATM accounts with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK). Aside from the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) have also transitioned to the use of ATM for pension benefits release. 

The move to ATM pension releases is part of the Aquino administration’s drive for improved transparency and efficiency in government transactions. The country’s digitization reforms were recently hailed in the Better Than Cash (BTC) Alliance High-Level Panel Discussion, which was held in January 23 during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. 

“More than ever, we need to lay down the necessary structures for transparency, accountability, and openness in the way we handle public funds. With digital technology now at our disposal, it will be easier for us to track and monitor all transactions within the bureaucracy. This doesn’t just lead to faster transactions, liquidation, and auditing—it also helps us ensure that every peso spent by government will not be wasted on corruption, but will instead benefit the ordinary taxpayer in a real, immediate, and substantial fashion,” Abad said. (DBM)

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