Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sotto Pitches Budget Reform To Empower LGUs

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Senate president Vicente Sotto III has underscored the bottom-up budgeting scheme as an effective way of empowering local government units (LGUs) in pump-priming development in the countryside, as he engaged multi-sector groups in the provinces of Central Visayas on Friday.

Sotto said the Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program would guarantee an annual Local Development Fund (LDF) to help LGUs in provinces, cities, towns, and barangays implement their three-year comprehensive development plans.

In July 2019, Senator Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Bill 23 seeking to provide direct LDF to the LGUs and providing for the mechanics for the direct release, as well as the counter-measures to ensure transparency of the program.

Lacson and Sotto filed on Wednesday their certificates of candidacy for president and vice president, respectively.

Although the bill has not been passed into law, the tandem has ensured its implementation through executive actions.

Sotto is in Cebu for a two-day virtual town-hall meeting via Zoom with the leaders of marginalized sectors, such as fishermen, farmers, vendors, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community, media, women, urban poor, and “habal-habal” drivers, in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquior.

He said the bottom-up budgeting method would address fund distribution issues down to the barangay level.

The bill, Sotto said, would fund development projects and programs that will steer economic activities, generate employment, and ensure more infrastructure undertakings even down to the villages.

“We know how to solve the problems (of the LGUs) by merely balancing the budget. Bring the money of the government down to the people,” he said during the meeting held at the Shangri-la Mactan Hotel Resort in Lapu-Lapu City.

If institutionalized, this program will ensure automatic allocation of PHP500 million budget for each of the country’s 82 provinces, PHP100 million for each of the country’s 145 cities, PHP50 million for each of the country’s 1,493 municipalities, and PHP5 million for each of the country’s 42,046 barangays.

These allocations should be on top of each LGU’s annual budget and internal revenue allotment (IRA) as their share from the taxes collected in their jurisdiction.

“Hindi dapat nanghihingi sila (LGUs) ng pera sa gobyerno. Dapat ang gobyerno ang nagbibigay sa inyo. (They [LGUs] should not be the ones asking for money from the government. The government should be the one providing for you),” Sotto told the sectoral leaders.

Jarvis Prochina, the third nominee of the Ako Bisaya Party-list who organized the event, said a total of 90 sectoral leaders met with Sotto to raise their concerns involving organizations down to the grassroots level. (PNA)

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