THE City Government of Naga needs to strengthen its fund generation campaign and networking to cope with the negative impact brought about by the LGU’s decreased share in the National Tax Allocation (NTA).
This was given emphasis by Mayor Nelson Legacion who revealed that his administration keeps a list of big-ticket projects that are due for implementation this year. “The city government has to augment also the funds for the infrastructure projects whose constructions began last year and have to be completed within the year,” he said.
The slash in the NTA share which was felt by the LGUs across the country happened due to the drop in tax collection by the national government from different industries in 2020 and 2021 during which the operations of businesses were greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that the adverse effect caused by the cut in the NTA will be felt until 2024 considering that the allocations to be received by the LGUs for that year will depend on the revenues collected by the national government in 2021 or three years before the applicable year. “If the applicable year is 2023, an LGU will receive its allocation based on the revenues collected by the national government in 2020,” the mayor said.
The global economy was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when movement restrictions and major disruptions to the global supply chain drastically reduced economic output at all levels. Naga was not spared, with many local businesses forced to close or suspend operations, leading to significantly lower taxes collected by the national government, a portion of which forms a large part of LGUs’ budgets three years down the line.
Another factor that made the allocation of the cities to shrink was the conversion of two municipalities into cities, which, based on the law, must have been allocated with individual shares in the NTA, thereby making the funds distributed to all the cities throughout the country even smaller.
The mayor said the situation has made Naga City to suffer a deficit in its 2023 budget of around P150 million. Naga approved a P1.5 billion budget for 2023, which is lower than the one approved in 2022.
In the city government’s Satong Aramon program hosted by Allen Reondanga, head of the City Events, Protocol, and Public Information Office (CEPPIO), Legacion bared that the city was able to acquire at least P1.5 billion as a firm funding commitment intended for the construction of roads and other lifeline projects including the Naga City Convention Center in Barangay Carolina and the Center for Safety and Resiliency (CeSaR) at the Balatas New Development Area (BNDA).
He said the funds and the projects on which they will be spent were included already in the 2023 General Appropriations Act.
Aside from the P1.5-B, Legacion also disclosed that the city government is confident in can acquire additional funding assistance for the projects by way of un-programmed appropriations based on the assurances made by an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Un-programmed appropriations are those which provide standby authority to incur additional agency obligations for priority programs or projects when revenue collection exceed targets, and when additional grants or foreign funds are generated.
The mayor said that the construction of the convention center, which will be completed in two- or three-years’ time, needs at least P600-M funding requirement while the CeSaR has to be funded with more or less P400-M to be accomplished including its technology requirements to make it resilient against potential calamities.
He announced that due to fund sourcing initiatives that his office has undertaken, the city government was able to generate an initial amount of P145 million for CeSaR. Bidding processes are now being prepared by the DPWH. For the convention center, the LGU has generated P100 million as initial fund.
Since July 2022, Legacion has begun networking with the offices of senators, congressmen, various national government agencies and government officials to be able to generate more funds for the city’s projects.
“I am glad to inform my fellow Nagueños that with such initiative the city government was able to acquire firm funding commitment of P1.5 billion from different sources which is now included in the national government’s 2023 general appropriations act passed by the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate and approved by President Marcos Jr.” the City Mayor said.
(Jason B. Neola, CEPPIO.)