Devolution improbable despite higher tax allocations for LGUs next year – experts

Published December 6, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Various local governance experts cited different problems that are prevalent and some that may arise from two policies that will come into effect in 2022 which will likely prevent a complete devolution or transfer of powers to the local governments.

(FILE PHOTO)

Starting in 2022, the Supreme Court’s (SC) Mandanas ruling will require local government units (LGUs) to receive 40 percent of most national taxes (beyond the current practice of getting only from the internal revenue allotment or IRA). In exchange, however, local governments will also shoulder the responsibility over public services to be devolved under Executive Order No. 138 issued on June 1, 2021.

During a recent webinar series entitled, “#PILIpiLUNAS 2022” organized by the University of the Philippines – Diliman Office of the Chancellor that aims to show research-based policy recommendations for a governance agenda in the 2022 national elections and beyond, experts weighed in on the said policies and how it will affect LGUs.

According to UP Economics Professor Joseph Capuno, as the incomes of local governments from the national tax allotment (NTA) increase next year, their responsibilities and expenditures will also increase.

“All types of local governments will have greater expenditures for social services, including health services,” Capuno said. He added that municipalities will have greater expenditures than cities or provinces.

On the other hand, Dr. Alex Brillantes professor at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, noted that the problem of scarcity of resources will continue to plague LGUs due to the fragmentation of districts, rendering many of the barangays unsustainable.

“Are they more effective as administrative rather than political units? There’s a lot of divisiveness, a lot of politics and corruption there,” Brillantes said.

Meanwhile, UP Political Science Professor Maria Ela Atienza said that despite thirty years after the enactment of the Local Government Code, there are still wide disparities in local government’s performance across the country.

“Performance is affected by limitations in the Code and the electoral system,” she said.

She added that it is also affected as well by the disparity in the quality of local leadership and personnel quality, local civil society presence, and citizen’s awareness and participation; ability to generate local resources; and persistence of political patronage, clans, corruption, and national executive dominance. Atienza also proposed reforming the party system, strengthening regional development councils, and banning political dynasties.

#PILIpiLUNAS 2022 will run from August 2021 to March 2022.

 
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