Eumir Atienza, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 8: Financial projections for economic enterprise
Effective and Responsive Local Governance
Improving services for its constituents is any local government unit’s dream. For the Province of Aklan however, this dream is being translated into reality with the help of PAHRODF scholars through Australia Awards Scholarships.
Backed up by an executive order coming from the governor, the first batch of nine (9) scholars have been mandated to create a business plan for the province with the aim of improving government services while at the same time trying to remain profitable. For one such scholar, Raymond Eumir Atienza, his marching orders were to crunch the numbers to ensure the feasibility of proposed government projects in certain areas, and watch the bottom line.
Currently the understudy officer of the provincial audit office, which was newly created shortly after the Australia Awards Scholarships, Eumir was selected as part of this first batch of scholars in 2012 when he was still with the provincial accounting office. While most all the other scholars pursued HR/OD courses, he and another colleague took a different path. Having taken his Masters in Applied Finance at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales for a full year, his course choice was based on the main functions of his department: financial analysis, financial projections and accounting. “My goal was personal development, and of course, to help my province,” he shares. Eumir’s self-advancement clearly meant gains too for his province.
Though not all scholars took the HR/OD track, necessitating a slight modification in their key result areas, the local government’s end-goal of combining all of their scholars’ learnings to improve government services has not changed. In fact, Eumir thinks that it has so far worked to the province’s advantage as they seem to have covered all possible concerns. “Kasi most scholars in our batch are about HR and organizational development. Napasok lang kaming dalawa sa finance. Pero naabot naman lahat ng concerns ng province nung pumasok yung Australia Awards Scholarships.” (“Most of the scholars in our batch were in HR and organisational development. Only two of us were in finance. But all of the government’s concerns seem to be addressed anyway with the Australia Awards Scholarships.”)
Financial projections for the province
Back from his scholarship in September 2013, Eumir’s Re-Entry Action Plan (REAP), focused on the financial projections of his province’s economic department. Consisting of seven (7) departments, 3 hospitals,an academic centre for nurses, the local government’s quarry, sand and gravel services and the jetty port, Eumir’s work was cut out for him.
Developed with the assistance of his mentor, his REAP was designed to make use of his primary role in the organisation and take advantage of his learnings in Australia. “Gamitin yung computations na natutunan ko doon - the projections, analysis… makakatulong ito para maspalaguin pa yung income ng province sa lahat ng services like sa port, hospitals and everything else.” (“To use the computations I learned – the projections, analysis… this will help grow our income in the province for all the services, like the port, hospitals and everything else.”)
Starting with financial projections for the jetty port, Eumir admits that he has only just begun to implement his REAP. “As of now, nagsa-start palang kami (We have only just started). We have 2 years to complete the REAP. We started last April. We started with jetty port operations.”
Undeniably, because the jetty port is the gateway to Boracay, one of the country’s top destinations, this project is of prime importance. With arrivals rising each year, the Province of Aklan needs to focus on how it can best service the needs of its ever-growing number of visitors, while at the same time, looking at effective ways to generate income for the local government. Expected to bring in his know-how in the finance field, Eumir’s contribution is essential.
“Right now we are working on the jetty port business plan and I am handling the financial projection for three years – from 2015-2017. With the expertise I got from the University of Newcastle, I can help project income for the jetty port … sa Boracay, talagang lumalaki yung pumupuntang tourists doon (tourists going to Boracay are on the rise)”, he says.
Likewise, with the provincial governor’s plan to develop the jetty port on reclaimed land in Caticlan, his scope of work has immediately expanded. With the enormity of the project, sound business planning and spot-on financial projections are crucial to ensure its viability and success. Eumir reveals, “Then may bago pang mga project yung governor namin na ipapa-implement ngayon like yung reclamation ng part ng Caticlan na gagawing bagong port so kailangan naming gawaan ng business plan iyon para gawing successful rin yun kasi malaki din gastos noon.” (“Then there are new projects that the governor intends to have implemented, like the reclamation of parts of Caticlan. This will be used to develop the new port. We need to make the business plan to ensure its success since it costs a lot.”)
Eumir confides that fortunately, he and his team are almost done with the projections for the jetty port and are on their way to work on the next project lined up. “We walked through the operations. We examined contracts, analysed statements and income. We’re about to finish the jetty port, and we’re moving forward to the next units of the economic enterprise department.”
Making headway despite the odds
Getting to this point in his REAP did not come easy though. Aside from the operational hurdles that the team needed to overcome, they also had to deal with some resistance, not to mention, raised eyebrows from jetty port employees. “The Caticlan port operates 24/7, so hindi namin ma-istop ang operations. Tuloy tuloy so mahirap namin kunin ang data.” (“We couldn’t stop operations. It was difficult to access data.”)
To complicate matters, resentment from port employees became evident as they distrusted Eumir and his team who were perceived as intruding, or meddling in their operations. “Parang nag-aaudit kami o nagsu-scrutinize sa mga operations.” (“As if we were auditing and scrutinizing their operations.”) He shares that it was not that easy to deal with them since they were not as cooperative.
But Eumir’s party just plugged on with the work, unmindful of what was being said about them. “Na-overcome namin at na set aside yung negative na naririnig namin. Tuloy tuloy lang ang trabaho.” (“We managed to set aside the negative comments and just carried on with the work.”) Eventually, realising that our directive came straight from the governor and that what we were doing was to benefit the Province of Aklan, the port employees appreciated our work more and became supportive.
While Eumir concedes that his work may not have any frontline dealings with constituents, he counters that the transparency in accounting for public funds will not be lost on the people. “Maklkita nila na walang ginagawang anomalya, at makakatulong pa kami sa pag-project ng future income ng probinsya.” (“They will see that there are no anomalies in the handling of funds, and that we can be helpful in projecting the future income of the province.”)
In fact, Eumir is confident that his learnings on projection of income and expenditures, and calculation techniques from the university, can only have positive ramifications on his work and eventually the province. Though these are actually not much different from what he already knows, he shares that Australia’s advanced financial standards has most definitely enhanced his old ways of computing accounting equations.
With all of his slides and notes from his classes intact for reference, Eumir feels that the knowledge he gained will also help speed up the implementation and completion of his REAP. He proudly states, “I kept all my slides from our classes that I’m using now to implement my REAP. With these calculations, I think I can finish my REAP easily or faster because of the advanced technology and studies in Australia. I still have my notes that I can use as my reference.”
As Eumir also point out, “Gagamitin ko yung computations na natutunan ko doon para makatulong ito sa lalong pagpapalago ng income ng province sa lahat ng services like sa port, hospitals, and everything else.” (“I will use the computation techniques I learned in Australia to help increase the provincial revenue from the port, hospital and others.”) Though the jetty port may be the start, Eumir’s contribution may conceivably extend beyond what he initially sought to implement in his REAP as the province embarks on more projects in the future. Using his business plan and projections as the backdrop, upgraded services and funds for the local government’s coffers may well be in sight for the Province of Aklan.