THE GOVERNMENT needs to improve its information gathering and management to help policymakers develop vital economic reforms faster, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said. 

Evidence-based policies can accelerate the implementation of long-overdue reforms, Mr. Chua said during the Analytics Summit PH Tuesday. 

He said data gathered through the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act in 2015 played a crucial role in developing the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise law that reduced the corporate income tax and reformed the fiscal incentive system. 

By making data and information easily accessible, we in government will have more time to focus on more value-adding aspects of our work, he said. 

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 this new normal, he added. 

Aside from policy-making, Mr. Chua said key social programs like the P205-billion cash aid program for poor families last year could have been delivered more effectively if digital technology was used. 

Within NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), we are walking the talk. We are now working to integrate all our databases to create a single source of truth in monitoring all projects. This will decrease the time spent collating and generating reports from days to just hours or minutes eventually, he added. 

He said NEDA is also working on dashboards and data repositories that can monitor internal processes and store official documents. 

For the country to reach its next stage of development, we need to focus on innovation. And for this to translate to national policy, we need to set an example within our agencies. Without innovation, a country falls into what we call this middle-income country trap, Mr. Chua said. 

Moving forward, he said full implementation of the national ID system will be a big step for the country towards digitalization as it provides a single database for the entire population. 

The government was able to register 38.7 million citizens for the national ID since it opened the step 1 registration in October. Some 20.1 million have had their biometrics captured while 558,000 have received their IDs. 

We envision the PhilSys (Philippine Identification System) to spark the widespread use of banking services and electronic payments or transactions, thus accelerating the growth of the digital economy. PhilSys may also facilitate the vaccination of the general population, especially if we have to do this every year for booster shots or if we have to take this as if it were a flu vaccine, and the implementation perhaps of a digital vaccine credential in the future, he added. — Beatrice M. Laforga