Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lacson: Budget reform advocacy to end selective releases of funds to LGUs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Former Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson is seeking to finally end the selective release of funds for local government units’ development projects, through his advocacy pushing reforms in the budgeting system.

In an interview here, Lacson said he is fine-tuning the Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) to include safeguards that will deter officials from blocking or delaying the release of such funds to LGUs that are not their political allies.

Lalagyan natin ng safeguard to see to it na ang provisions ng law in this regard will be ma-implement … Ito talagang nonpartisan ito. This is for the good of the entire country and whether kalaban, kaalyado, dapat may bababa na pondo sa kanila for their development,” he said.

He said the blocking or delaying of fund releases would be tantamount to patronage politics where LGUs will be forced to beg for funds, to the extent of moving over to the ruling political party.

“Hindi pupuwede (na) babalik tayo sa patronage politics at magmamalimos na naman,” he said.

Also, Lacson said he is considering suggestions from local government officials to streamline the process by designating an agency to handle follow-up requests by LGUs for funding.

These safeguards and inputs from LGUs are being included in a proposed Budget Reform Act that he will file, should he be elected to the Senate.

Lacson is running as an independent senatorial candidate and is pushing BRAVE, which proposes the downloading of funds from the national budget to the barangay, city, municipal and provincial levels.

"If we give each of our 81 provinces P500 million to P1 billion; each town P50 to P100 million; each city P150 to P300 million and each barangay P3 to P5 million for development projects, we can generate jobs and lure people in the metropolis to the provinces," he said.

The added amounts are on top of the 20 percent of internal revenue allotments (IRAs) for local government units' local development projects, plans and activities.

He said the funds may be taken from the unused part of the national budget, which amounts to an average of P332 billion a year from 2002 to 2015. Such unused amounts ballooned to P703.6 billion in 2015.

But this proposed distribution of appropriations can be used only for LGUs' developmental endeavors, and not for other purposes.

With BRAVE, Lacson said people seeking jobs in Metro Manila and major urban areas can be convinced to return to their home provinces - if local government units get enough funds to implement development projects.

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