MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippines launched anti-corruption reforms Wednesday including cashless and checkless government transactions that President Benigno Aquino III said will improve budget management and make it harder to misappropriate funds.
Aquino, the son of revered pro-democracy champions who was elected president in 2010 on promises to fight corruption and poverty, unveiled the programs at the start of a three-day conference on good governance.
"Our goal is to institutionalize reforms that make it very difficult for unscrupulous individuals to steal from the people -- regardless of who sits in office," he said.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the changes will spell big savings for the government, which spends 8 pesos (18 cents) on each of the millions of checks it issues each year.
Electronic purchase cards will be piloted by agencies including the armed forces, the Department of National Defense and the Department of Budget and Management within the first quarter for payments for meals, medical supplies, airline tickets and the like. Their financial transactions should be 100 percent checkless and 80 percent cashless before the end of the year, Aquino said.
If all goes well, the program will then be rolled out in other government agencies next year, he said. On top of easier tracking of procurement, Aquino said data gathered through the system will give government an accurate record of what programs need funding and will make it easier for Treasury to determine how much cash is needed on a daily basis
The information will also be the used in another program launched Wednesday: a government website for up-to-date national data.
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