April 16, 2024

The chair of the House Committee on Appropriations stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of local government units as the first responders in emergencies or disasters, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the hearing on the P251.18 billion proposed budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co said the budget should improve the capacity of LGUs to recover from the socioeconomic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and also institutionalize their preparedness and resilience to natural disasters in managing risks and crises.

“Our road to optimum economic recovery and attaining the fulfillment of our agenda for prosperity lies in the enhancement of the capacity of LGUs to efficiently perform and devolve services and functions towards greater devolution,” Co said.

Co said the DILG’s internal capacity and resiliency should also be strengthened to fulfill its mandates and comply with various presidential directives.

According to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, the proposed expenditure program of the DILG for next year amounts to P253.05 billion, of which P251.18B is new appropriations and P1.86B is automatic appropriations.

It further noted that next year’s appropriations is P1.77B or 0.71 percent higher than this year’s spending level of P251.27B.

Co raised the possibility of increasing the proposed budget of the DILG, particularly to provide more equipment, vehicles, and stations for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and also funding support for the Local Government Academy.

“There is some elbow room for a few more vehicles for the BJMP, a few more police stations, and a few more fire stations and fire trucks, as well as some more funds for the Local Government Academy so that neophyte LGU executives and staff can get needed in-service training,” he said. He commended the DILG for its actual budget utilization of 96.8 percent on average between 2019 and 2021 measured in terms of obligation-to-appropriations ratio. – PNA