Zambo mayor bats for less IRA dependency
Zamboanga City (September 3) -- Mayor Celso Lobregat has declared anew his goal for less dependency on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) as he expressed hopes that the City Council will realize the urgent need for increased local taxes.
Lobregat said the members of the City Council are on a study tour of different highly urbanized cities in the country with the aim of learning and consequently emulating the many programs that made a difference for other areas.
"Hopefully they will realize the need for local revenues because they will see that other cities can do such and such programs due to efficiency in local revenues, " Lobregat said when asked to comment on the councilors' 5-day tour to key cities like Cebu, Davao and those located in Metro Manila like Makati and Quezon City among others.
Quezon City for instance has local collection strength of P6-7 billion allowing its local government to allocate more funds for infrastructure projects and other programs, according to the mayor. "You can't have so many programs if you don't have revenues".
He also cited the case of Makati City whose special education fund (SEF) for this year reached P1.8 billion as compared to Zamboanga City's level of P40-50 million. He said Makati City is a small area and so with such large collections, the local government there can put up its own Pamantasan ng Makati.
The SEF is sourced from ½ of the real property tax collection and is used to fund the personal services of local school board teachers, the construction and repair of school buildings, comfort rooms, fences and participation in division and regional meets.
The same is true with Manila City, which has over a billion peso LSB, according to Lobregat. "Can you imagine how many school buildings can we build through the LSB fund of P1 billion or how many additional teachers can be hired?".
Zamboanga City, he stressed is the third largest city in the country and is the 6th in terms of population and yet its collection is.
Since he assumed office in 2004, Lobregat has started initiatives for enhanced local revenues. In fact, from an almost 80 percent IRA dependent budget in 2000, the city government is target a less than 70 percent IRA dependent budget this year.
The personal services component in this year's budget was reduced to 34.6 percent, maintenance, operating and other expenses to 38 percent and capital outlay and equipment component increased to 27.4 percent.
The gradual reduction in IRA dependency was due to the passage of the ordinance on the general revision of taxable real properties and other income generating measures by the previous City Council.
Meanwhile, Lobregat personally spearheads the conduct of a series of forum on barangay fiscal administration in the city's barangays where he also advocates for increased revenue collections in the villages. (PIA 9/CIO) [top]