MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III was lukewarm on Wednesday to the request of municipal mayors for him to certify as urgent a bill that will increase the share of local government units from national taxes.
During their assembly at the Manila Hotel, League of Municipalities of the Philippines national president Mayor Leonardo Javier Jr. sought Aquino’s support for the “Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice” bill pending in Congress.
The measure seeks to expand the tax base and to increase the internal revenue allocation (IRA), or the share of local government units from taxes collected by the national government.
“It is right that we, as local chief executives, be empowered and given utmost trust and relevant support from national government,” Javier said in his speech.
“Therefore, to effect real all inclusive growth, Mr President, may we respectfully request and we humbly beseech you, even if I have to kneel in front of you, to please certify as urgent, the ‘Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice’ bill now pending in both houses of Congress,” the mayor added.
In a separate speech, however, Aquino said he cannot yet agree with the mayors’ proposal, since the national government has to allocate public funds for other purposes aside from the IRA.
“Ang dulo po niyan, gusto ko man hong sabihing umoo. Sige, lakihan natin nang lakihan ang slice ng pie… Ipasok natin ‘yung buong budget, kulang pa,” he said.
He added that even without the bill, the LGU’s share in national taxes increased from P265.8 billion in 2010 to P89.86 billion this year due to the country’s stronger economy and more efficient tax collection.
“Bago pa ho naparating itong sinasabi ninyong lakihan ang slice, mukha hong lumaki na iyong slice maski na hindi pa natin ini-slice ulit ‘yung pie,” Aquino said.
The President also enjoined LGUs to strive to get the so-called “Seal of Good Housekeeping” so they will receive additional performance challenge funds.
“Sa mga nagpapakitang-gilas nga ho, hindi mahirap dagdagan ang inyong pondo. Sa mga marami naman pong problemang naidudulot sa atin, medyo nag-iingat tayong dagdagan ang pondo. Nasa inyo po iyan. Magtulungan tayo dito,” he said.
In the same speech, Aquino also sought the support of municipal leaders in making sure that his successor will continue his reforms.(MNS)