MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines under a Binay presidency will have one mega project per region and one major project per province.
This was the assurance of Vice President Jejomar Binay as he spoke at a Galing Pook forum about countryside development in the Ateneo de Manila University on Friday, December 11.
“I will convene the regional development councils to identify, implement, and monitor major infrastructure projects in their regions. Our aim is to have one mega project per region and one major project per province,” said Binay. (READ: The Leader I Want: Jejomar Binay's to-fix list for 2016)
He said he would require local government units (LGUs) to prepare an annual local development program, which the national government should use as a guide when providing assistance in the implementation of local programs.
Binay, who was mayor of Makati City for 21 years, believes LGUs are the country’s “engines of growth.” (READ: Empower citizens, prepare LGUs)
“Ang kaunlaran ng ating mga lalalawigan, mga bayan, at kanayunan ay nakasalalay sa kamay ng mga pamahalaang lokal. Ngunit magagampanan ng mga pamahalaang lokal ang kanilang gawain nang epektibo kapag may sapat silang kapangyarihan at kakayanan,” he said.
(The development of our provinces, towns, and municipalities depends on the local government. However, they can only fulfill their responsibilities if they are empowered to do so.)
“Any government function is best performed by the subsidiary of government that is closest to the people – as long as that subsidiary has the competence to perform that function," added the standard-bearer of the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance.
Increasing IRA shares
During the forum, Binay also promised an increase in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs.
“Sa ngayon, sakal-sakal pa rin ng pambansang pamahalaan ang mga lokal na pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng mga patakaran nito kaugnay sa internal revenue allotment o IRA, na inaasahan ng maraming LGU upang maisakatuparan ang kanilang mga serbisyo at proyekto,” Binay told the crowd of about 100 in the Ateneo.
(Right now, the national government is holding the local government by the neck through its rules on the internal revenue allotment or IRA, which LGUs expect to use to implement their services and projects.)
He believes it is “perfectly equitable” to give a bigger IRA share to LGUs covering larger land areas and populations.
“Trouble is, usually, the smaller the LGU, the smaller its local income, so it needs more allotments from the national government,” Binay said, adding that he will increase the IRA shares of poorer municipalities as well.
The Vice President said the IRA is prone to abuse because it still goes through the Department of Budget and Management. (READ: Did budget dep't withhold LGU funds in 2013?)
“The law provides that the transfer of allotments should be automatic, but it has loopholes that a sitting president can use to abuse the procedure and impose his political bias against certain opposition LGUs,” said Binay.
He said this "politicking of the IRA" will be unacceptable should he be elected as president.
“The automatic release of IRA to local government units is non-negotiable. I would see to it that the medium-term development plan is balanced and grounded on the needs and aspirations of the country as a whole as well as of the local communities,” said Binay. – Rappler.com