Bacolod Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia said local government units (LGUs) are optimistic about receiving a bigger share from the national revenue through a “win-win” solution supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We are happy that the President has agreed that we can explore all the possibilities,” he said in a press briefing Monday.
In June, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled with finality that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share given to LGUs must be sourced from all national taxes and not only from national internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The ruling was based on the petition filed by Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas questioning the process of allocating IRA funds for LGUs.
However, the higher share would be received by the LGUs in 2022 yet since implementing the expanded IRA now would lead to “unmanageable fiscal deficit,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo had said earlier.
Leonardia, who is the national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), led the city mayors in discussing their concerns with the President during the LCP’s 69th National Executive Board Meeting in Davao City last month.
During the discussion, Duterte expressed willingness to consider options to grant the LGUs’ expanded IRA share.
“On Friday (October 11), I am going to Malacañang together with the city mayors and some governors and we will discuss this,” Leonardia said.
He shared that President Duterte could also support the idea of granting LGUs a monetization scheme that will not use national government funds.
“This is a concern of all LGUs. All of us have the same dream, that it will be released. We’re happy that the LCP started the initiative,” Leonardia said, adding that the President, being a former local chief executive himself, understands the request of the LGUs.
Leonardia said that since the High Court’s ruling is prospective, the LGUs can avail of the expanded IRA initially from June to December this year.
“We can finally look forward to receiving what is owed to our cities and, ultimately, to our constituents, not in 2022, but as soon as possible,” he added.
Leonardia noted that cities like Bacolod could get P100 million more annually once the ruling is fully implemented.
“That amount could be added to our present IRA of P1.4billion,” he said.*NLG/PNA
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