IRA for all LGUs released, town mayors insist

By Perseus Echeminada
IRA for all LGUs released, town mayors insist

Contrary to the claim of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) said yesterday it has enjoyed increases in Internal Revenue Allotment worth P389.860 billion for all local governments this year.

LMP executive vice president Mayor Germy Singson Goulart of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur said in a statement that local government units (LGUs) received annual increases ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent or more in their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the national government in the last five years.

“The Aquino administration scores consistently high on this steady increase because of its sound fiscal management,” Goulart said, while noting that previous administrations had withheld the IRA and unduly punished LGUs because of unmanageable fiscal deficits.

The IRA of LGUs stood at P249.988 billion in 2009, Goulart said, and it increased to P265.802 billion at the start of President Aquino’s term, owing to the government’s intensified tax collection drive and new measures to tame the recurring budget deficit.

She said the IRA rose to P273.309 billion in 2012, P302.304 billion in 2013, P341.544 billion in 2014, P389.860 billion this year and will hit P428.619 billion next year.

“I have never experienced that our IRA shares were delayed, withheld or impounded in the last five years, including in 2013. Figures do not lie, and I am happy that our IRAs were always released on time by the budget department,” said Goulart.

Other town executives under the LMP, composed of 1,490 municipal mayors representing their respective municipalities, cited the record package of benefits enjoyed by LGUs from the national government.

Topping the list is the P62.3 billion in Conditional Cash Transfers, P35.3 billion in universal health insurance, and P26.412 billion in allocations under the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP), said Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis of Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija.

Abesamis, LMP vice president for Luzon, said the big support from the Aquino administration “speaks of the effective partnership between the national and local governments.”

Such partnership has, among other things, contributed to successful poverty-reduction programs in the countryside by stimulating inclusive growth and promoting equal opportunities for the poor and marginalized, he added.

“The comprehensive downloading of public resources has greatly enhanced the delivery of services, funded new projects and provided new jobs,” said Abesamis.

Mayor Edwin Alibutdan of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay cited the budget department’s ability to inform LGUs of the actual IRA a year in advance, and to set the automatic monthly releases of their shares so as not to derail local budgeting program and expenditures.

He said such advanced one-year notice provided a sense of stability and dovetailed with local budget preparations that gave municipalities enough time before submitting their budget for approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Mayor Manuel Fortes of Barcelona, Sorsogon, said the GPBP is a better budget strategy coordinated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government that has increased citizen’s access to local services.