Mayor joining USAID online meeting

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Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia will join city mayors and top officials of the League of Provinces and the League of Municipalities in an online focus group discussion (FGD) today on the sentiments of the local government units on the current decentralization and the recent developments in the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas case, a press release from the city Public Information Office said yesterday.

“While the COVID-19 crisis has pervaded in the country and it has become a topmost priority concern, it would also be ideal that we continue to explore ways and means on how to prepare when this over,” Leonardia said.

As national president of the LCP, Leonardia had represented the city mayors in a series of meetings of the Leagues with Cabinet secretaries and even with President Rodrigo Duterte on the Mandanas case.

USAID-DELIVER (United States Agency for International Development – Delivering Effective Government for Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth) had organized the FDG to improve their understanding on the issue and how the national government would better its transition towards the implementation of the Mandanas case, the press release said.

The DELIVER Activity is a five-year USAID project in the Philippines that aims to assist the Philippine Government in institutionalizing innovative and lasting solutions to improve the government’s effectiveness in critical functions and reform while and forging partnerships with the private sector, civil society, industry players, and other development stakeholders that are crucial in delivering holistic reform interventions, it said.

In October, the LCP, together with the League of Provinces of the Philippines and League of Municipalities of the Philippines, held high-level exploratory meetings with the President to discuss a win-win solution for both the national government and the LGUs on the expanded Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) as decided by the Supreme Court in the Mandanas case, the press release said.

They explored with the President their proposal for the monetization of incremental Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Duterte announced during the 69th LCP National Executive Board meeting in Davao City in September that that he is open to options for local governments to immediately avail of their share of the national revenue as ruled by the Supreme Court in the petition filed by Batangas Governor Hermenigildo Mandanas.

Duterte stressed that while the timing of the SC decision is not perfect due to major programs already being financed by the national government, his administration will find a way to implement the SC decision that will expand the IRA of LGUs as early as possible.

One of the options proposed by city mayors that the President is considering is a monetization scheme wherein LGUs can acquire a loan from the bank according to their expanded IRAs which the national government can then pay on a later date.

“We are hoping to get our IRA increase as soon as possible. But we also consider the concern of the national government as regards its overall impact in the financial system of the country. The projected substantial increase, if implemented, means a bonanza for LGUs which will ultimately redound to the benefit of our local constituents. That is how critical this issue is,” Leonardia said.*

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