But can our country really afford creating an additional layer of bureaucracy?
The Committee on Constitutional Amendments at the HOR will soon vote on the proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution under a Federal set-up. HR No. 8 proposes for the creation of 18 Regional States although some groups are recommending five (5) States, namely: NCR, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro State.
In one Congressional hearing, QC Mayor Bautista said that if other Regions were not ready, Congress should consider prioritizing the National Capital Region (NCR) to become an independent State since they have the resources. Of all LGUs, Quezon City has the biggest total income at almost P21Billion for 2015, or 23% of NCR’s total income, followed by Makati at P13.76Billion or 15%.
NCR gets the lion’s share, particularly the locally-generated income, compared with all other Regions. Based on DOF’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditures for FY 2015 of all Cities by Region, NCR enjoys 61% of the total locally-generated income of all 145 Cities (i.e. 64% of the total tax revenues and 45% of total non-tax revenues). For the total current operating income of all Cities, NCR’s share is 42%.
If we shift to a federal form, with business as usual, given the country’s current tax and fiscal policies skewed in favor of Metro Manila, 81% of BIR’s revenues and 54% of BOCs’ revenues are collected within NCR.
So, if NCR becomes a State, how can other LGUs in other Regions compete with NCR? Will it correct the already lopsided economic development in the Philippines? Will it solve the traffic situation, over-population and other problems within Metro Manila or will it even worsen?
Government must first ensure an equitable allocation of the potential sources of local income of other proposed Regional States. Businesses should pay taxes where they operate as they use the services and facilities provided by the LGUs. The present tax administration system and distribution of national wealth must be changed to level the playing field for all LGUs. Government must also provide an IT solution that will automatically allocate the taxes rightfully due the concerned LGUs.
Otherwise, “Napaka Centralized ang Resources” sa NCR - to the detriment of all LGUs in all other Regions.
But can our country really afford creating an additional layer of bureaucracy? Instead of allocating limited funds to pay for the salaries and benefits of new Departments to be set up in each Regional State, not to mention expenses needed for its maintenance and operations, such funds can be better spent for LGUs’ actual programs and services for the people.