Davao eyes automating collection to curb corruption

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 November) – Computerizing records at the city’s revenue-generating agencies may be one way to prevent corruption in these offices, an official said.

In an interview, City Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, chair of the committee on finance said the City Information and Technology Center (CITC) has suggested allotting part of the 2014 budget to the centralization of collection data.

“We need to make sure that the elbow room for corruption will be minimized. I think we should go into computerization,” Dayanghirang said.

The councilor said that the city assessor’s office and accounting office are already implementing a centralization of their data.

Last year, the city building office targeted to fully automate its operations by the fourth quarter of 2013, including the purchase of a large format scanner for the input of plans of incoming investors.

The scanner reportedly costs around P1.3 million or over 50 percent of the P2.3-million budget for the agency’s computerization.

However, the office of the city treasurer and other revenue-generating offices such as the public markets and terminals are yet to be computerized.

“We are aiming for the central control and management of records,” Dayanghirang said, adding they are identifying cities and municipalities that are already implementing computerization.

The official said automation raises the possibility of taxpayers only having to go online for their transactions.

“We’re also looking forward to applying a business model that is used by utilities,” he said.

The Davao Light and Power Corporation and the Davao City Water District have a system where clients can pay by going to designated paying areas in malls.

Dayanghirang said the system could also lead to an increased centralization of other government functions, such as safety and flood monitoring.

He said that if the measure is approved it would be up to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to decide if the city would need a contractor, aside from its existing implementing agencies.

During the committee hearing Monday, Dayanghirang told the CITC to give him what the agency has accomplished and what it needs for the upcoming year.

Ricarte Franco Jr., CITC officer-in-charge told the committee the previous cost for the internet connection for City Hall and its departments amounted to P1.8 million.

The cost for the firewall for the website was P150,000 which came from a P5 million budget for the CITC this year, Franco said.

He said the appropriation for a point of payment software that would help in the interconnection was around P2.3 million. However, this software is yet to be materialized.

Franco said in an interview that the interconnection will only succeed if there is a comprehensive study of existing infrastructure in the different city government agencies.

He added the CITC would need the entire 2014 to complete the plan, and that it was too early to propose an exact budget.

Asked whether the CITC would need outside help for the implementation of such a project, Franco said the agency was willing to work with contractors.

City accountant Lina Justol, however, said that working with contractors could be difficult if they refuse to turn over the source code to the government.

“The CITC has to make a plan for the city and what it plans regarding interconnectivity,” she said. (MindaNews)