Governor Arthur Yap on Tuesday said the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Visayas should fight for an equitable share of the Central Visayas provinces in the national budget for projects with local significance.
Yap recalled the incident when he reacted to the report of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)-7 regional director Efren Carreon, during the RDC-7 full council meeting last Friday at Messo Hotel in Cebu City.
He quoted Carreon as saying that out of PHP693-million worth of projects endorsed by the RDC-7, only PHP108 million found their way to the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Yap said Carreon pointed out that the projects were those deliberated by the sectoral committees of the RDC-7 and then endorsed by the full council.
On this, Yap said the RDC-7 should analyze how much of the 15 percent is sensitive to national targets and how much is sensitive to local targets.
If it is possible to divide, he said at least 15 percent of the total budget should be national-sensitive and 15 percent should be sensitive with the local targets.
He said he favors RDC-7 asking the national government to support financially the local government units because the budgets are Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA)-backed and the Mandanas decision will be implemented already.
The decision of the Supreme Court on the Mandanas case, according to Yap, stated that the LGUs’ “just share” must be computed and sourced from all national taxes and not just from the national internal revenue taxes.
“The Mandanas ruling. This is really I don’t understand. The Mandanas ruling is a sure thing and then our budgets are IRA-backed. Is it possible for the local governments right now, provincial and the LGUs, be supported financially because our budgets are IRA-backed and the Mandanas ruling assures us of an increase in income, anyway? Can you imagine we are pumping infrastructure projects and borrowing money for it and being charged just one percent less of commercial rates?” he said.
Yap sought the support of RDC-7 to get the attention of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) so a better package could be available to every province in Central Visayas.
“Can we ask the full weight of the RDC to support the move to really call on the Land Bank and the DBP to meet each of the governors separately and come up with a package that is commensurate to us? How Governor Gwen Garcia will use that package for Cebu will be different from how I will use it in Bohol because we are unique,” Yap said.
Yap added that he also wants clear-cut parameters for local-sensitive projects to be included in the national budget and that provinces should be given the right cue. (AV/PNA)