Padilla seeks addt’l funding for LDEF

August 27, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 281 views

To boost LGUs in ‘poor’ position

AS the government pursues devolution and efficient delivery of public services, it is hampered by the concentration of political and economic power in the so-called “Imperial Manila.”

In answer to this, Senator Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla has proposed to counter this trend by providing for an equalization fund or Local Development Equalization Fund (LDEF).

Padilla, in his Senate Bill (SB) 447, provides and assures that there is enough funding for priority development projects for the “poorest” local government units (LGUs).

SB 447 provides that the LDEF be used strictly by LGUs for development projects, activities, and programs (PAPs) listed in their Comprehensive Local Development Plans (CDPs).

“Accordingly, this measure aims to provide an equitable distribution of wealth to LGUs to foster development with the end goal of bridging the gap between the revenue expenditure mandates of the LGC and the General Appropriations Act [GAA],” Padilla said in his bill.

Aside from promoting the principle of devolution, the bill is also in line with the agenda of budget reform pursued by former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Under Padilla’s bill, the national government shall fund the LDEF to make sure provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays can implement their three-year Comprehensive Development Plan.

The LDEF includes:

* P500 million to P1 billion per province per year

* P100-200 million per city per year

* P50-100 million per municipality per year

* P3-5 million pero barangay per year

The amount of LDEF for each province, city, or municipality shall be based on the following criteria:

* 50% of the prescribed amount for each 1st class LGU

* 60% of the prescribed amount for each 2nd class LGU

* 70% of the prescribed amount for each 3rd class LGU

* 80% of the prescribed amount for each 4th class LGU

* 90% of the prescribed amount for each 5th class LGU

* 100% of the prescribed amount for each 6th class LGU

The funds are not to be used as cash gifts, bonuses, food allowance, medical assistance, uniforms, supplies, meetings, communication, water and light, and fuel; for salaries or overtime pay; traveling expenses; registration or participation fees in training and seminars; in repair and maintenance works in administrative offices; in acquiring furniture, equipment and appliances; and in the acquisition or maintenance of vehicles.

Neither may the LDEF be used for funding PAPs that may duplicate or overlap with those being implemented by the national government.

Meanwhile, there will be a performance-based evaluation of the use of the funds by an Oversight Evaluation Committee (OEC) to be headed by the Undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Its members will include officials and at least four members of accredited civil society groups and non-government organizations in the areas where the projects are to be implemented.

The LDEF will be decreased for LGUs that get an “unsatisfactory” performance rating. Two successive unsatisfactory ratings may result in the removal of the LDEF, although an LGU can reapply for it after one year.

On the other hand, the government shall provide P1 billion for the capacity building of LGUs to make sure they can properly use the LDEF.

A web-based monitoring system shall be set up by the OEC, with initial funding of P100 million.

A penalty of one to six years and a fine of P500,000 await officials who will withhold the release of the LDEF to the LGUs. Those who misuse the funds may be charged with technical malversation.

The bill also provides for a Congressional Oversight Committee to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the bill.