The Philippines is seeking a $100-million financing from the World Bank to modernize the government’s civil service.
World Bank documents showed that the Department of Finance wanted to secure funding from the Washington-based multilateral lender for the full cost of the proposed Civil Service Modernization and Human Resources Management in the Philippines project.
The appraisal for this project financing, to be implemented by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), would be in October, while the World Bank board was expected to tackle it by March next year.
This financing was aimed at “[strengthening] the organizational effectiveness of the CSC and selected government institutions,” the World Bank said.
The World Bank noted that while the Philippines had already put its economic house in order with a combination of structural reforms and institutional stability since the 1990s, which led to its positive economic performance of late, institutional reforms in the country had not been fully implemented.
“For example, the country remains a challenging place for private investment: the Philippines ranked 124th out of 190 countries on ease of doing business according to the Doing Business 2019. The business environment is less favorable than in neighboring countries like Malaysia (15th), Thailand (27th), Vietnam (69th), and Indonesia (73th). Starting a business (topic rank 166) is especially cumbersome, given the time and number of procedures needed,” the World Bank noted.
The World Bank added that the inability of the civil service (or the bureaucracy) to effectively perform its policy/program implementation and service delivery functions was also a cause for concern.
Given the long-term socioeconomic development blueprint AmBisyon Natin 2040 aimed at making the country a “prosperous middle-class society where no one is poor,” the World Bank said there needed to be a significant improvement in the bureaucracy and the way it delivered services.
Citing analytical work it conducted last year, the World Bank said the Philippines’ civil service suffered from institutional fragmentation, politicization, low digital penetration and administrative risks.
The main finding, according to the World Bank, is that there is a need to modernize the civil service if it is to play the role expected of it in a country that aspires to be an upper/higher income economy in the next two decades.
The World Bank pointed out five key areas where action was needed: modernization of the legal framework for the civil service through the introduction of a modern civil service law; strengthening the executive leadership and improving management practices to boost productivity, morale and motivation; professionalization of the human resources management function; rationalization and improvement of training and development, and deepening the penetration of IT (information technology) in the bureaucracy for efficient and effective delivery of administrative and other services, functions and processes.
In this regard, the World Bank said the CSC-led project was expected to “address the human resources management and organizational development constraints affecting the Philippines’ civil service.”
Specifically, the proposed financing would strengthen the capacity of the CSC and key human resource management (HRM) institutions, and improve the HRM capacity of line agencies to support improved organizational effectiveness, it said.
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