Press Release
July 21, 2006

Palace should release full IRA this year

If Malacañang is indeed concerned about the welfare of local governments the reason it is invoking in insisting that Senate cuts in the proposed 2006 national budget be restored then it should release their full Internal Revenue Allotment this year.

Sen. Ralph Recto hurled this challenge to the Palace a day after its officials called on senators to restore P8 billion in two LGU programs which has been deleted from the Senates version of the 2006 expenditure.

Iyon ay P14.8 billion lang. Thats only a small amount compared to the P391.7 billion paid to creditors. Why the double standard? Were generous to a fault to our creditors but stingy on our local executives.

"I think what Malacañang should do is release P14. 8 billion in additional IRA this year, he said.

This years IRA is supposed to be P166.5 billion, or P14.8 billion higher than last years P151.7 billion level, but because the government is operating on the reenacted 2005 national budget, what is being released to LGUs is last years IRA amounts.

Recto stressed that the release of the IRA is not contingent on the passage of the budget.

"The Supreme Court had ruled that this local government entitlement should be automatically appropriated. Whether there is a new budget or not, the Palace is duty-bound to release the IRA in the amount prescribed for the current fiscal year, he said.

"The IRA is not something that is granted by the grace of Congress or by the generosity of the executive. It is something local governments should get without them asking for it, Recto said.

Recto urged President Arroyo to order the unconditional release of the IRA in her forthcoming State of the Nation Address. "That would make the SONA a beautiful speech, he said.

Recto said many LGUs are dependent on their IRA share. It is their oxygen. You deprive them of their IRA, they die from slow fiscal asphyxiation.

The IRA represents the share of local governments from internal revenue collections. The current years IRA is based on the collections three years before.

On the budget cuts, Recto clarified that he is amenable to the restoration of the P5 billion Kilos Asenso fund and the P3 billion Kalayaan Barangay fund if only to jumpstart the deadlock bicameral conference on the2006 budget and because the LGUs truly deserve these allocations.

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