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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Duterte administration looking to distribute P10 billion GEF to LGUs in 2022

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The government’s economic team is eyeing to allocate P7 billion to 258 poor and disadvantaged municipalities and another P3 billion to 16 provinces under the proposed Growth Equity Fund (GEF) in next year’s budget to aid them in implementing devolved functions and services. 

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Director Anna Liza F. Bonagua said on Tuesday that this was based on the last agreement based on the discussion of the members of the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). 

However, she said this allocation of the GEF has yet to be presented in the next meeting of the Commission on Devolution (ComDev). 

For those LGUs which will receive GEF, this would be on top of their allocation under the National Tax Allotment (NTA). 

“Ito po yung huling parang naging agreement base sa discussion ng mga naging miyembro ng DBCC na yung P10 billion allocation for 2022 ay paghahatian ng mga probinsya at municipalities. Thirty percent ay mapupunta sa mga probinsya at ang 70 percent ay mapupunta sa municipalities based doon sa criteria na ginamit o inayos ng mga miyembro ng DBCC,” she said in a Learning Initiatives for PoIicy and Data (Lipad) webinar on the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.

Chaired by the secretary of the Department of Budget and Management together with the secretary of DILG, ComDev also has the secretaries of the National Economic Development Authority, the Department of Finance, Executive Secretary, and the presidents of the leagues of local government units (LGUs) as its members. 

Under President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 138, ComDev is tasked to proposed a GEF to Congress to address issues on marginalization, unequal development, high poverty incidence, and disparities in the net fiscal capacities of LGUs. 

While the eligibility criteria for the GEF has yet to be finalized, Bonagua said the estimated GEF allocation was pro-rated based on poverty incidence and per capita NTA for the fiscal year 2022 based on the 2020 Census of Population. 

Citing the latest estimates, Bonagua said the government is eyeing to allocate an average amount of P187.5 million to 16 provinces and an average of P27.1 million to 258 municipalities for the 2022 GEF. 

Based on the estimates on the GEF allocation for each of the 16 provinces, the government is looking at giving as high as P222.7 million and as low as P149.1 million.  Meanwhile, a maximum of P37.5 million and a minimum of P20.1 million is eyed to be allotted for each municipality. 

“Hindi pa po ito approve. Ito po ay ipepresent pa po sa susunod na ComDev,” she said. 

In the same forum, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Policy and Research Chief Atty. Mary Ann De Vera reiterated their stand that local government units should not be contextualized as a whole as they vary in terms of income and capacity. 

According to De Vera, the LMP is urging for the maximization of the GEF to give poor municipalities the opportunity to cope with the devolved functions. 

“The GEF should be readily accessible. Comprehensive and specific guidelines must be provided to assure our LGUs that this GEF will be actualized and this can serve as their basis in confidently formulating their individual DTPs (Devolution Transition Plans),” she said. 

Moreover, De Vera said the LMP is also recommending that the capacity development interventions of the national government agencies should be categorized based on the actual needs of LGUs. 

“Through this process, the DILG,  the local government Academy, and the other national government agencies concerned will only interject the necessary interventions,” she said. 

Lastly, De Vera said they are urging for a gradual redevolution of functions and services and that the national government support be targeted to disadvantaged LGUs. 

Based on the proposed 2022 national budget, local government units’ NTA share is P959 billion, higher by around 38 percent compared to the previous year’s share. 

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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