Governments in Southeast Asia are further strengthening their governance structures and institutional capacity to further deliver better services to their citizens. 

This was the conclusion of a joint report published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and discussed in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Titled “Government at a Glance: Southeast Asia 2019,” the report provided internationally comparable data on government resources, processes and outcomes on public governance in member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The report covered 34 indicators in areas such as public services, promotion of digital government, creating more transparency, and providing better employment opportunities for women.

“Strengthening public institutional capacities is critical to all operations, and ADB remains committed to supporting our developing member countries in improving public sector management functions and financial stability, while promoting more effective, timely, corruption-free and citizen-centric delivery of public services,” said Bambang Susantono, ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development.

Recent OECD reports have highlighted the importance of strengthening public sector institutional capacities in Asean to improve the quality of life for citizens and raise more equal societies. 

Seven Southeast Asian countries introduced digital identification tools and only two have duly integrated their online portals to improve public services and make government services accessible to the general public. 

Chiara Bronchi, chief thematic officer of the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, said that while governments produced budget acts that citizens could check, the manner of how the budget was spent varied across Asean countries and was less transparent.

Edwin Lau, head of the Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division of OECD, said transparency was about checks and balances.

There are only three countries that use independent fiscal institutions to review and analyze matters about the budget, Lau said. These are Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand. (Melo M. Acuña)

Thumbnail image: Official Gazette