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PIA Press Release
Friday, January 06, 2012

 

CSOs get involved in the local ‘kaban ng bayan’

by Jennifer Catan-Tilos

DUMAGUETE CITY, Jan. 6 (PIA) -- Civil society organizations (CSOs) and the local government units (LGUs) of Valencia and San Jose have participated in a workshop on “Increasing Transparency in Local Governance through Informed Citizens’ Participation,” this week.

Under Code: RED or Reforms for Economic Development, the seminar helps LGU executives engaged CSOs on revenue and expenditure management, opening an opportunity to work together in enhancing transparency.

This British Embassy funded project, Code: RED, is a non-government organization commissioned by the British Embassy to undertake the seminar in cooperation with Social Watch Philippines and Silliman University.

In two separate schedules, some 60 identified local officials in each town participated in the workshop at Bethel Guest House.

Aside from civil society, participants include municipal planning officers, treasurers and budget officers in the each LGU. The workshop focuses on development plan, revenue sources and budget allocation, identification of additional revenue sources and priority spending and draw out the commitments from local government officials.

The activity also aims to capacitate CSOs in understanding the basic local finance and identify it under the Local Government Code, which they participate in the budget deliberations.

A team of local finance experts led by former National Treasurer and Social Watch Philippine Lead Convenor Leonor Briones who discussed about local public finance and people participation in local budgeting and suggested ways of increasing LGU revenues and prioritize spending.

Other resource speakers are Social Watch Philippines' Jessica Cantos, Cielo Magno and Leilani Galvez.

Briones said CSOs are trained to effectively participate in the local public finance process, which involves analyzing public finance records, tracking expenditures and proposing alternative ways to raise revenues for the LGUs.

This gives “voice” to people, enables civil society to become partners of government, and makes the government more responsive to the needs of citizens,” said Code: RED.

The project comes in sync with the memorandum circular issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) last year. Memorandum Circular 2010-83 requires all LGUs to submit and post sources of income, budgets, expenditures, contracts and loans as well as procurement plans.

Full disclosure of local budget and finances is central in institutionalizing good governance, transparency and accountability in light of the annual internal revenue allotment (IRA) to LGUs and other sources of income.

In 2011 alone, the IRA amounted P287 billion or about 20 percent of the national budget. Other sources of income for LGUs amount to an estimated P60 billion (£1 billion) annually. (mbcn/jct/PIA-NegOr)

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