Despite cut in IRA
    Pampanga budget to increase in 2012

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    ANGELES CITY – Despite a decrease of P58 million in the provincial government’s budget next year, Board Member Cris Garbo said he is confident that the Capitol will still be able to provide the necessary basic services to the people of Pampanga.

    “The Capitol’s 2011 budget of P1.4 billion is expected to increase by P1.5 billion next year due to the diligent tax collection policies imposed by the Provincial Government,” said Garbo, who chairs the sangguniang panlalawigan’s finance and appropriations committee.

    Garbo said the national government will be imposing a budget cut of P58.2 million or a 4.8 percent deduction from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units due to the low turnout of tax collections in 2009.

    But despite the budget cut, Garbo revealed that the Capitol is the only provincial government in the country that is expecting an increase in its budget from P1.4 billion this year to P1.5 billion in 2012.

    Garbo attributed the stable budget to the provincial government’s increased quarry collections, collection of real property taxes, and interests from the Capitol’s trust funds, among others.

    He said the provincial government spent some P20 million for the computerization of the Capitol’s tax mapping system, which improved the RPT collection system from P20 million to an estimated P600 million by 2012.

    Garbo also said they are expecting a 100 percent increase in interests from the Capitol’s cash positions or trust funds.

    For next year, the Capitol has allotted P362,320,517.33 or 24% for general services, P43,021,813.40 or 2.86% for social services, P115,407,559.80 or 7.67% for economic services, and P984,380,934.47 or 65.40% for non-office accounts for a total or P1,505,130,825.00.

    In a visit to Pampanga sometime ago, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo met with Governor Lilia “Nanay Baby” Pineda, who gathered all mayors from the province for a dialogue.

    During the meeting Robredo said the 4.8% budget cut on the IRA next year will be “a big challenge” to LGUs.

    He explained that taxes collected for 2009 are 4.8% lower than those collected in 2008.

    In anticipation of the budget cut next year, Robredo encouraged the mayors to prioritize upcoming projects and at the same time focus on intensifying local revenue mobilization.

    But Mayor Eddie Guerrero of Floridablanca town said the national government should consider first the various “peculiarities” of each LGU before it decided to cut next year the budget of the IRA of all towns and cities nationwide.

    In an interview, Guerrero reiterated that each LGU must be allowed to use its IRA budget “according to the town’s respective needs and concerns.”

    “Each town has its own peculiarities, which is why fiscal autonomy is important most especially when it comes to the IRA budget allotment,” Guerrero stressed.

    “What if my municipality is located in a flood prone area? How can I work around a 5% budget allotted for my IRA if my town is hit by more than just one typhoon? Considering the effects of global warming today, our country is hit with several typhoons in a year,” the mayor further lamented.

    Guerrero stressed that a fixed budget allotment for the IRA runs contrary to the fiscal autonomy of each LGU.

    The mayor said he hopes the national government would provide LGUs an option or an alternative that would allow them to tailor-fit their IRA budget according to their needs and priorities.

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