GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 Dec.) — South Cotabato officials are pushing for the creation of more viable public economic enterprises or income-generating projects in a bid to improve the local government’s capacity to generate more revenues.
Ellen Grace Albios, chair of the provincial board’s finance committee, said Monday they are currently evaluating possible projects and related strategies that the provincial government could pursue within the next three years to further enhance its income or revenue generation initiatives.
“The provincial government has substantial resources to support its operations but it remains largely dependent on the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) and we want to eventually change that,” she said in a media forum.
The official said the local government’s dependence on IRA was seen in the province’s proposed P1.1 billion budget for next year that is due for final approval this week by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
She cited that the allocation for 80 to 85 percent of the items in the proposed 2014 budget was mainly drawn from the province’s IRA share.
The rest of the items were backed by local revenues, savings and other related funding sources, she said.
“At the committee level, we’ve started looking at some measures to help augment our income. The biggest challenge for us right now is how to increase our local revenues so we will eventually become less dependent on the IRA and at the same time provide for our other priority programs,” Albios said.
The provincial government presently has four major economic enterprises — the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center, Productivity and Technology Center, Lake Sebu zipline and resort facilities under the Seven Falls Eco-Tourism Development Project.
Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes had proposed for the conversion of the provincial hospital in Koronadal City as an economic enterprise but the move remaining pending due to the continuing rehabilitation and expansion of its facilities.
The hospital’s pay-wing section has been undergoing repair and rehabilitation due to previous structural problems.
Albios said her committee has been looking into the operations and the development works at the provincial hospital and other local government-operated health facilities in the province for possible additional improvements.
She said they are specifically pushing for the completion of the remaining construction works at the provincial hospital annex or the Upper Valley Community Hospital in Surallah town so it can finally operate by the second half of 2014.
Based on their assessment, she said the facility needs an additional funding of around P200 million to facilitate the completion of its required facilities and the acquisition of necessary equipment like beds, tables, chairs and laboratory instruments.
“(But) with its projected income of just around P100 million annually, coming up with that amount (P200 million) would be difficult for the provincial government so we’re relying right of the help from national government agencies,” she said.
For her part, Vice Gov. Cecile Diel said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will push for the inclusion of the finance committee’s recommendations in the province’s executive and legislative agenda (ELA) for the next three years.
She said they are targeting to complete by yearend or early next year the formulation of the ELA, which will mainly set the local government’s directions in terms of policies and developments under the current local administration.
In support of the move, Diel added that the board is working on the passage by next year of an ordinance that would establish a system for the implementation of public-private partnership projects or ventures within the province. (MindaNews)