Philippines digital transformation urgently needed for better policy-making, service delivery – NEDA

Data science, analytics, and digital transformation can help make better policies and deliver better services as the Philippines heads to a new and better normal, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“I have always believed and advocated for digital transformation within the government in order to strengthen policy-making and service delivery. The government and businesses alike need to use data science to make better policies. This has become even more urgent in the new normal,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said during the 2021 Analytics Summit PH on July 27, 2021.

Organized by the Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP), the summit convenes key stakeholders from various sectors to evaluate and learn more about how best practices in data science and analytics will help the country take on challenges of socioeconomic development and service delivery while keeping pace with the 4th industrial revolution.

The NEDA chief further emphasized the significance of digitalization during the pandemic when social protection programs need to be efficiently delivered using information and communications technology (ICT).

Chua recounted that the biggest challenge in implementing the social amelioration program (SAP) for 18 million families and the small business wage subsidy (SBWS) for 3.1 million workers was how these critical emergency responses can reach the people, most of whom were unbanked or without access to formal financial services.

“At the height of the crisis, there was no single registry or database of Filipinos to identify beneficiaries. At the same time, 71 percent of the total adult population did not have bank accounts, making it difficult to efficiently disburse the subsidies. This is why the President gave the directive to accelerate the implementation of the Philippine Identification System or PhilSys to provide all Filipinos a unique and digitalized ID,” he said.

To cope with the pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority has adopted a three-step registration system to ensure safe and efficient implementation of PhilSys. Since October 2020, over 38.7 million individuals have been registered for step 1 or the demographic data collection.

Some 20.1 million individuals have completed their step 2 registration or biometrics capture, and more than 4.8 million have applied for bank accounts. Moreover, over 558,000 registrants have received their PhilID cards.

“We envision PhilSys to spark the widespread use of banking services and electronic payments, thus accelerating the growth of the digital economy. PhilSys may also facilitate the vaccination of the general population and the implementation of digital vaccine credentials in the future,” Chua said.

Apart from PhilSys, he also identified the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act as priority legislations to help attract investments in key industries to support digital transformation.

“In particular, opening up the telecommunications sector, through the Public Service Act, will help improve internet services and strengthen our foundation for digitalization. With better and cheaper internet, digital services like cloud computing will be more viable,” Chua added.

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