By Prince Golez
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “understands” the concerns of local government units (LGUs) in line with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling that fully transfers the delivery of basic services and facilities to LGUs, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
“The President hears and understands the concerns of LGUs with regards to full devolution. Pinakikinggan at pinahahalagahan po ng administrasyon ang mga ito. We wanted to ensure that decisions are not made haphazardly. We make decisions that are objective and fair for all,” DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said in a Palace briefing Tuesday.
Pangandaman said Marcos Jr. has directed the National Economic and Development Authority to review the allocation of responsibilities, programs and projects of both the Executive branch and the LGUs to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of public services.
The completion of the study on the full devolution could be finished in two months, she told reporters.
“We were tasked by the President to study the projects and programs whose implementation will remain with the national government dahil national government lang ang may kayang gawin itong mga proyekto na ito, at kung ano namang mga proyekto ang idi-devolve natin sa ating local government units,” the budget secretary added.
Meanwhile, Pangandaman announced a Growth Equity Fund (GEF) to address the issues of inequality and disparities of fiscal capacities of LGUs as they take on devolved functions in the delivery of basic services and functions.
The GEF will fund the programs, projects, and activities of poor, disadvantaged, and lagging local governments, allowing them to gradually implement the functions and services devolved to them.
“Last year, we provided them 1.2 billion, divided po iyan according to their population – mayroon formula tayong ginagamit. And this year, for the 2023 budget, mayroon din silang one billion,” the DBM chief said, noting that there are 430 LGU recipients of the GEF among 1,477 cities and municipalities and 114 provinces.
Full devolution promotes decentralization as enshrined in the Constitution and the Local Government Code, as well as the increase in just share in all national taxes and revenues for LGUs as provided for in the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
LGUs will be given more autonomy in managing their resources, based on the assumption that LGUs are better positioned to address the basic needs of their constituents and, as a result, can provide better services.
The high court ruled in the Mandanas Garcia case that all collections of national taxes, except those accruing to special purpose funds and special allotments for the utilization and development of national wealth, should be included in the computation of the base of the LGUs’ just share.