Local government units should not abandon efforts to seek a bigger share in the national taxes even if the current administration has flatly rejected such proposals, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. advised the country’s vice governors and other local officials.
Speaking at the 62nd national assembly of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines in Tuguegarao City Friday night, Sen. Bongbong said LGUs should work together to press for their reasonable share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).
“Let us carefully plan on what else we can do so that in the coming years we can ensure that local governments will be given the priority and importance they truly deserve,” he said.
Sen. Bongbong, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, is supporting initiatives in the Senate to increase the IRA share of LGU’s.
One proposal is to increase the current 40-60 percent sharing scheme in favor of national government to a 50-50 split.
Another proposal is to increase the tax base by including in the computation of IRA not only on all national taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, but also the excise taxes and value-added taxes collected by the Bureau of Customs, estimated at P192 billion annually.
However, Sen. Bongbong noted that Malacañang is cold to such kinds of proposals and apparently distrusts local government units.
He cited reports that in the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) last April, the President rejected LMP’s request to certify as urgent a bill seeking to expand the tax base and increase the shares of local governments from 40 to 50 percent of the national taxes.
Worse, the Senator noted that the government failed to release the 2013 IRA share of LGUs, amounting to over P300 billion.
Despite this, Marcos pointed out, Malacañang admitted under-spending around P303 billion of the 2014 budget, which many economists tag as the culprit for the recent economic slowdown.
According to the National Economic Development Authority, the economy grew by only 5.2 percent during the first quarter of the year, the slowest growth posted since 2012.
If these funds had been released to LGUs, these could have gone into projects that could have, in turn, contributed to economic growth.
Sen. Bongbong, who served as Ilocos Norte Governor for three terms, thinks the attitude of Malacañang towards LGUs is due to the fact that very few national leaders have had experience as a local government official.
“Let us work together and I am sure we can put a stop to this,” he said.
“We can once again bring forward local government and show what local government can do, show the many things that local governments can do better than the national government, and in that way play our part in the progress and the growth of the economy of our country. That is what I dream for,” Sen. Bongbong added.