3 September 2014, 2:30 PM
Asian Development Bank, Pasig City


Good afternoon.

On behalf of our colleagues in the Philippine government, I am pleased to welcome you all to this international conference on impact evaluation. Our presence here today shows our mutual recognition of the importance and potentials of impact evaluations in crafting more effective policies and programs. This recognition also shows that the field has crossed over to mainstream research. For this milestone, I commend the Asian Development Bank, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation or 3ie, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies or PIDS for organizing this important conference in the Philippines.

I also wish to thank the Australian government for its continued assistance to the Philippines through the impact evaluation of several development programs and projects in the country.  NEDA, with the assistance of 3ie, fully supports this development intervention, as the country aims to realize its commitment to the development effectiveness agenda and to continue promoting evidence-based decision making, program improvement, and accountability.

As you know, impact evaluation is fast becoming an indispensable tool for policy-making in the developing world. Knowing what programs work and what programs do not leads to an efficient and prudent use of public and donor funds, particularly by providing guidance to policymakers in their decision-making and in directing resources to more efficient development interventions.

The Philippine government, for example, has made inclusive growth the cornerstone of its socioeconomic policy. The idea is to have every Filipino contribute to and benefit from the country’s remarkable growth and development. As you may have heard, our economy showed such extraordinary resilience amid external shocks and natural disasters. In fact, we reported last week a 6.4-percent growth in our gross domestic product, making the Philippines the second fastest growing economy among major Asian countries.

To sustain this robust economic growth and to ensure the participation of majority of Filipinos in the development process, the Philippine Development Plan Midterm Update emphasizes the prioritization of human capital development along with key economic policy reforms and programs. It is also worth noting that the continuing reform efforts and good governance undertaken by this administration since 2010 have given us wider fiscal space, enabling us to make greater spending on health, education, and other social services.

A major government undertaking in social services is the conditional cash transfer or the CCT, where the government has been investing in the health and education of children from poor households. The idea behind CCT is to ensure that the lowest sectors of society will have equal access to basic services such as healthcare and education. This program is supported by independent evaluations conducted by PIDS, ADB, and the World Bank, with results indicating that concerns over the supposed creation of a culture of dependency and irresponsible use of cash assistance were unfounded. In fact, further analysis of data led the researchers to recommend extension of the program to cover poor students in high school. For this reason, the government is now expanding the program to include children aged 15-18.

Moreover, our recognition of impact evaluation’s vital role in governance had us institute in 2010 the Zero-Based Budgeting or the ZBB approach, a performance management, results-oriented system to ascertain if key government programs and projects are achieving the desired outcomes. The intention was to guide decision-makers on whether the resources for the program or project should continue at its present level, or be increased, reduced or discontinued. The ZBB studies were entrusted to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

In the first year of ZBB approach, budget items worth PHP 82 billion were subjected to evaluation. These were programs and projects with large funding; but with evidence from evaluation studies pointing to poor program designs, poor implementation records and improper targeting, among others, the government was able to either cut or terminate programs such as the provision of farm input subsidies, which were found to be ineffective and suffering from leakages.

 Clearly, these evaluation practices have provided effective feedback of lessons learned for the improvement of program and project designs of future development projects. This year we are taking it a step further by including in the national budget a significant amount to conduct process assessments and impact evaluations of more government programs. With impact evaluation, the objectives of government transparency and accountability become a reality and do not remain mere slogans.Finally, let me underscore the important role of our development partners in these initiatives. Given resource constraints and other limitations, we are grateful for the assistance of our development partners in building capacity for monitoring and impact evaluation in the country. This is an investment made not just for mutual accountability, but also for the advancement of global agenda for development.

Thank you and I wish everyone a productive conference.