Taking the cudgels for local government units, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today urged the Deparment of Budget and Management to abandon the practice of impounding, even if only on a temporary basis, the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of LGUs.
Marcos, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, aired this appeal based on a news article on the 2013 report of the Commission on Audit admonishing DBM for its failure to release on time almost P303 billion in IRA shares of LGUs.
“Majority of our LGUs are still IRA-dependent so for the DBM to keep them waiting before releasing their just share is like withholding the day’s wage of a working father who has a hungry family waiting for him at home,” Marcos said.
As a former Ilocos Norte governor, Marcos has first-hand experience of the challenges local government officials face, particularly those in areas heavily-dependent on the IRA share and other national government subsidies.
Based on this experience Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 113, calling for automatic release and appropriations to host LGU of its 40 percent share in the gross collection of the national government from national wealth taxes.
He noted that while the Local Government Code of 1991 mandates a direct release of the shares of LGU’s on national wealth taxes witin five days after the end of each quarter, many local governments are complaining they do not get their share or it takes a long time before they do.
“These unfortunate situations are negatively impacting on the efforts of LGUs to effectively program their priorities, as well as on the delivery of basic services to their constituents,” Marcos said.
Apart from filling SB 113, Marcos has expressed strong support for initiatives in the Senate to increase the IRA share of LGUs.
“The IRA shares for CY 2013 of the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the national taxes amounting to P302,806,286,459.00 were not automatically released to LGUs but maintained under DBM Administered Funds (Fund 103) in violation of Section 6, Article X, General Provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” the COA said in its 2013 report.
Marcos said this practice runs counter to the concept of local autonomy under the Local Government Code, which empowers local governments to chart the destiny of their locality.
He noted however, that such empowerment carries with it enormous responsibilities especially on the devolved functions of agriculture, health care, social services and environmental management.
Marcos said the attainment of a meaningful local autonomy is the rationale why LGUs are allocated, in addition to their revenue generating power, a just share in the IRA collection and the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their respective areas.