Empowering the Grassroots by assisting Barangays in their Annual Budgets.

It’s been said that the Annual Budget of every Local Government Unit is the most important law. Through the budget, the Government can prioritize and put into action its plans, programs, and policies within the constraints of its financial capability as dictated by economic conditions.

Madam Chairman, fellow members of the Sanggunian and guests, while we celebrate on the approval of the City’s Annual Budget on time before the start of the year; preventing the reenactment of the previous year’s budget, year after year as experienced by the Sanggunian, at least that was what was told to me, our Barangays continue to fail in meeting the deadline of submitting their Annual Budgets on time, and to prevent a reenacted budget.

My dear colleagues, last year, up to the last day of our Regular Session, there were still Barangays whose Annual Budget were just approved. I don’t know how long this has been going on but it bewilders me to think that Barangays can, for a year, deplete most their financial resources without an approved Annual Budget.

Although in previous years, Barangays conveniently operate under a reenacted budget. There are, as we know, consequences such as the delay of government projects and its effect on certain social services making them more dependent on the City’s resources.

If we simply continue to take a passive role on the Approval of the Barangays’ Annual Budget which has resulted in years of this undesirable result, then we as officials of Naga City which proudly claims to be the “Center of Good Governance” have failed to empower the most important people in our Government, that which we call our grassroots, our Barangays.

The People’s Budget Ordinance authored by the Hon. Miles Raquid-Arroyo provides that ON OR BEFORE the 30th day of October of every year, the Barangays should have submitted their Annual Budget for the next succeeding year. However, I have confirmed as of this morning that not one Barangay has submitted its Annual Budget for 2020. Two months has passed since the deadline, yet it seems that there is no urgency at all.

Yes, it is our goal that Barangays be independent and autonomous but we must admit that our Barangays do not have the same manpower and resources as the City. They need our help. It is not only our job to scrutinize, approve or disapprove their submitted budget. I remember what Councilor Del Rosario mentioned last session, that we cannot just be bureaucrats sitting around. We must take a more active role in assisting Barangays to craft an effective and responsive budget.

It is my hope that, through this speech, I awaken our role as a vital partner of our Barangays. I therefore, through a resolution by this body, call for the creation of a special committee tasked to identify the difficulties in the crafting of the Barangay Budget and assist our Barangays in the submission of their Annual Budget for 2020 within the first quarter of the year and to submit to the Sangguniang Panlungsod an assessment report before the end of the first quarter of 2020 with their recommended course of action to avoid the same delay for the Barangays Annual Budget next year.

More than a year ago, the DILG, as a way of scaling up Barangay performance, extended the Seal of Good Local Governance to Barangays. One of the three core areas that Barangays need to pass is Financial Administration or the practice of accountability and transparency by complying with accounting and auditing standards and compliance with the Barangay Full Disclosure Policy. How can our Barangays pass the Seal of Good Local Governance for Barangays, particularly the criteria on Financial Administration if Barangays do not even have an approved budget?

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must give importance to this if we want progress for our grassroots. We cannot just hope and wait for this perennial problem to fix itself.  As the first Black American President, Barack Obama once said: “A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values”.

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