Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno called on local public officials to strengthen their role in nation building during the 2023 League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) General Assembly at the Manila Hotel on February 22, 2023 with the theme “Strengthening Municipal Capabilities Around Autonomy and Fostering Resiliency”.
“As frontline service providers, the performance of local chief executives and legislators spells the difference between regional development and regional decay,” said Secretary Diokno.
In pursuit of increased local autonomy and resiliency among municipalities, Secretary Diokno called for greater synergy between the local and national governments in key areas of cooperation.
For one, local governments must make use of the additional intergovernmental grant as a result of the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia case to lead their municipalities towards fiscal responsibility and sustainability. According to Secretary Diokno, this can be done through improved resource mobilization, better allocation of public resources, and good governance.
“Operationalizing this Supreme Court ruling is a welcome opportunity to optimize the shared responsibility between local and national governments,” Secretary Diokno added.
Public-private partnership (PPP) projects may also be explored to support bigger projects.
In support of LGUs’ autonomy in entering and implementing local PPP projects, Secretary Diokno mentioned that the proposed Public-Private Partnership Act, which has been approved by the House of Representatives on third reading on December 12, 2022, will enable local governments to develop fully as self-reliant communities.
Secretary Diokno also urged local authorities to improve real property tax (RPT) collection, which he argued is one of the most progressive sources of revenues.
“In order to improve RPT collection, local authorities should periodically update land valuations,” Secretary Diokno said.
He expressed support for the passage of the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Bill that will promote the development of a just, equitable, and efficient real property valuation and assessment system.
Local governments must also actively undertake reforms that enhance the ease of doing business at the local level to bring in more investments in their respective communities.
Furthermore, Secretary Diokno challenged LGUs to pursue digitalization for better local public service delivery and transparency in transactions.
Finally, he urged LGUs to take up sustainability and climate adaptation projects to address climate change, which disproportionately affects the most marginalized groups. Secretary Diokno said that doing so will also reduce inequality in the country.