Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bicol LGUs see extra funding for devt’t projects

LEGAZPI CITY: At least 79 of the 120 local government units (LGUs) in Bicol are assured of P45 million in extra funding for three years from the national government’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP), according to the regional office here of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The fund, which will come in the amount of P15 million yearly, will be used in GPBP-driven initiatives such as projects which include those on agri-livelihood, farm-to-market roads, irrigation, and other agri-infra facilities.
Formerly known as the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), GPBP, being applied by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.
It seeks to make the national budget more responsive to local needs, provide incentives for local good governance, strengthen the devolution of basic services delivery, create a conducive environment conducive to people’s participation, and generate demand for good governance at the local level.
This scheme also provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.
The 79 Bicol LGUs that are considered early qualifiers to the fund are in the region’s six provinces — Albay, CamNorte, CamSur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon; six of the seven cities–Naga, Iriga, Legazpi, Tabaco, Ligao, and Masbate; and 68 of the 105 municipalities.
Of these municipalities, Albay, Camarines Norte, and Catanduanes have 11 each; Camarines Sur, 16; Masbate, 10; and Sorsogon, 9.
These LGUs automatically qualify to the GPBP for having met the requirements, such as being the recipient of DILG’s Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) and implementation of Public Financial Management Improvement Plan (PFMIP) as determined by the Department of Budget and Management, DILG Regional Director Eluisa Pastor said.
Introduced in 2012 by the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo before his death in a plane accident in August of the same year, SGH is an award system to LGUs that will successfully meet the requirements of full disclosure policy, have exemplary standards of frontline services and procurement, and proven to have no adverse or disclaimer audit findings by the Commission on Audit.
Starting this year, the DILG is scaling up the SGH into the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) to cover a much wider LGU performance such as good financial housekeeping, disaster preparedness, social protection for the basic sector, business friendliness and competitiveness, environmental compliance, and law and order and public safety.
The Bicol list of early GPBP qualifiers is not final though, as further evaluations are undergoing for others that have not been included in the roster based on the SGH and PFMIP criteria which may still be added when results become favorable to them.
The evaluations include the budgeting process and the selection of Local Poverty Reduction Action Teams consisting of both LGUs and civil society organizations and the updating and validation to form the basis for the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plans.
After the consolidated list of projects are validated and reviewed by the Regional Poverty Reduction Action Team through the DILG regional office, it will be submitted to the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the Regional Development Council for endorsement to the GPBP oversight agencies.
The list of approved projects will be downloaded to the respective Sangguniang Bayan for approval, as the LGUs are required to provide counterpart funds, Pastor said. -- PNA

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