1,325 LGUs complied with transparency requirements – Sec. Robredo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 February) – From only 10 percent last year, compliance with the requirements of transparent transactions and processes among the local government units has greatly increased this year, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said.

Robredo, speaking at a gathering of local government officials and their partner civil society organizations at the Grand Regal Hotel here on Thursday, said that 1,325 LGUs have complied with these requirements earning for them the DILG’s seal of good housekeeping.

He said this development has created an atmosphere conducive to advancing anti-corruption measures among local government units.

Not counting the barangays (villages), the country has some 1,700 LGUs.

The seal was one of the yardsticks the DILG used to release or hold back portions or tranches of the internal revenue allotments of the LGUs.

Of the local governments that complied, 351 received varying amounts of financial assistance from the national government’s Performance Challenge Fund.

The assistance was DILG’s way of rewarding good performing local governments, he said, and was expected to be used for different development projects.

Robredo told the reporting and evaluation meeting of the Budget Tracking for Transparent Accountable Governance in Mindanao (Bitag) of the Balay Mindanao, that P500 million was released last year from the Performance Challenge Fund for the incentive system of the seal of good housekeeping program.

This year, it expected to reward the passing LGUs with about P750 million on top of their respective IRAs.

“On top of acknowledging their performance and allowing them to access their IRA in full amount, we would be instituting a reward system for these LGUs which were able to walk through the narrow and straight road,” Robredo said.

He said that the observance of transparency in government processes and procurement had saved for government its limited resources. In the case of the National Police that has not received substantial increase in its budget, he said that transparency has enabled the agency to purchase or acquire more of the same units due to actual lower bids available.

Before, he said, the government had to spend P5.1million to construct a police station. Now, one station would only cost P3.5 million. “That means that for the amount to put up four police stations before, we can build six.”

One fire truck would cost P9 million two years ago, he added. Now it costs only P5 million, “or five fire trucks for the money to buy only three fire trucks before”.

Also before, one service firearm for a police officer would cost P27,000, but it could be acquired at P18,000 today, he added.

“By simply making everything transparent, we can get more for our people without increasing much the resources we have,” he said.

The secretary lauded the Bitag program of the Balay Mindanao “for assisting our LGUs in embracing our anti-corruption advocacy”.

The program has zeroed in on encouraging local governments to allow nongovernment organizations to observe the budgetary preparation, planning and allocation. Other local governments though have allowed deeper engagements by the CSOs.

The program, funded by the Asia Foundation, started last year and covered the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Sarangani and Maguindanao and the 16 cities earlier covered by the 2003-2009 Cities Coalition for Transparent and Accountable Governance (CCTAG), an anti-corruption program funded by the same donor agency.

Encouraged by the increased number of performing LGUs passing the seal of good housekeeping, Robredo said he would “scale up” this year the requirement for the seal. These include complying with the electronic procurement system, posting of the projects and the IRA in the government website, newspaper and their respective bulletins.

“As we reward those who tried to comply, we would also impose penalties to those who failed. We would file administrative and criminal charges for violation of the procurement act, anti-graft and corrupt practices act, and other government laws,” he said. “It’s a carrot and stick thing.” (MindaNews)