Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP140815 - Key Factors for a Successful Partnership on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

"Key Factors for a Successful Partnership on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management"
Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
15 August 2014
Commission on Audit, Quezon Cityy

 Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, Commission on Audit (COA)
 Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, COA
 Commissioner Jose Fabia, COA
 Undersecretary Analiza Teh, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
 Assistant Secretary Domingo Nolasco, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
 Assistant Secretary Bleidal Gutierrez, Department of Health (DOH)
 Assistant Secretary Maria Gloria Tango, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
 Assistant Secretary Ester Aldana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
 Assistant Secretary Armando Ruiz, Department of Education (DepEd)
 Dr Muhammad Khan, USAID
 Other officials and staff of the Commission on Audit
 Other partners in Government
 My colleagues in the Australian Embassy
 Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.

Thank you for inviting my Embassy colleagues and me here today. I am very happy to join you in launching the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Accounting Guidelines and Primer.

The Australian Government takes great pleasure in its continued partnership with the Philippine Government on disaster risk reduction and management.

Congratulations to the Commission on Audit (COA) and its leadership - Chairperson Tan and Commissioner Mendoza - for making this day possible. We in the Australian Embassy are proud to support COA’s work to ensure transparency, accountability and value for money public expenditure through the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Accounting Guidelines.

It is important to highlight that this initiative is the third successful partnership between COA and the Australian Government. In 2012, we partnered with COA for the external audit of the Education Performance Incentives Partnership, and again in 2013 for the Year 1 Incentive Fund Grant of the Provincial Road Management Facility.

This morning, let me share with you some thoughts on key factors which have been instrumental to the successful partnership of COA and the Australian Government for this initiative, namely:

1. Delivering a common agenda;
2. Being responsive to current and emerging needs;
3. Innovation for change;
4. Value for Money; and
5. Ensuring sustainability.

On Delivering a Common Agenda, The Philippines Development Plan (2013 – 2016) identifies building disaster and climate resilience as one of the priority strategies of the Philippine government towards alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life.

In support of this endeavour, Australia’s disaster risk reduction and management program in the Philippines is focused on working with strategic government partners to understand disaster and climate risks, to integrate these into policies and investments, and to build the resilience of communities. The Australian Embassy’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) program has been a partner of the Philippine Government since 2006 and has contributed a total of PhP 2 billion (A$ 48.15 million) thus far.

This shared agenda is affirmed in the new development policy of the Australian Government - launched by the Australian Foreign Minister in June 2014 – which identified building resilience through disaster risk reduction, humanitarian assistance and social protection as one of our key pillars. We will continue to partner with the Philippines on disaster risk reduction and management in the long-term.

On Being Responsive to Current and Emerging Needs, the second key factor, In May 2013, the Australian Embassy and COA signed an agreement for the implementation of the project Enhancing Disaster Aid Audit and Systems. The project aims to rationalise the use of DRRM funds and improve the accountability and transparency of its allocation and use. The devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 reiterated the business case for setting up a system of accounting and audit for DRRM funds.

The huge impact of Yolanda resulted in overwhelming support locally and internationally. Support for immediate and life-saving needs and recovery of people affected required substantial public spending and foreign donor funding. According to the UN, financial aid for the Yolanda response totaled to US$ 460 million (PhP 21 billion). This is on top of the US$ 840 million (PhP 37 Billion) support provided by the Philippine government. The total requirement under the recently launched Comprehensive Rehabilitation Plan is US$ 3.4 billion (PhP 171 billion).

With the Disaster Accounting Guidelines, national government agencies and local government units are now better placed to report and record effectively and accurately receipts and distribution of DRRM funds, ensure proper accounting and financial controls are observed, and funds and resources are utilised as intended.

On Innovation for Change, the third factor, The Disaster Accounting Guidelines were pursued to fill in the dearth of knowledge and experience on disaster aid audit, which thus far had not been accorded equal attention. According to COA, no other similar initiative has been undertaken locally.

The Disaster Accounting Guidelines were developed on the basis of international standards under the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. The Guidelines provide state auditors, national and local government institutions with the lens to balance accountability and maintain flexibility that is urgently required for disaster response and recovery efforts.

I understand that COA actively participates in the development of International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions for disaster-related aid and funding. I am sure that the Guidelines we are launching today and the learning in developing this will contribute to this process.

On Value for Money, the fourth factor, Accountability over disaster funds is necessary whenever disaster strikes. Ensuring resources are utilised effectively and efficiently is of paramount importance.

Application of the Disaster Accounting Guidelines will provide the Philippine people with confidence in how disaster funds are allocated, utilised, and accounted for.

And lastly on Ensuring Sustainability, We are happy to note that on 15 April, COA issued Memorandum Circular 2014-002 informing all state auditors, national government agencies and local government units of the Disaster Accounting Guidelines and requiring compliance to the said guide.

Australia is also proud to support this launch and the executive briefing this afternoon - to bring the knowledge and learning gained from this collaboration to a wider audience.

In closing, we hope that the Disaster Accounting Guidelines will further ensure the transparency and accountability of disaster related expenditure, as well as improve the effectiveness of aid for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management work.

We also hope that these new guidelines will help facilitate in an efficient manner the disbursement of funds and implementation of activities to support recovery efforts for Yolanda-affected areas.

Thank you for this opportunity to support such a worthwhile endeavour. I wish you success in taking forward the new Disaster Accounting Guidelines and in supporting the country’s DRRM agenda.

Good morning.