BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera has a strong potential to sustain its financial capacity if it becomes an autonomous region, according to the NEDA-Region X Director Maria Lourdes Lim, who also chairs the technical working group (TWG) on Wealth Sharing and Revenue Generation of the Bangsamoro.
During the Forum on Fiscal Viability of an Autonomous Region conducted recently, Director Lim said that the strong potential of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for fiscal sustainability can be attributed from its high per capita transfers or national government allocation per person and its locally-generated revenues. Only CAR shares this status with the National Capital Region (NCR), she added.
Despite CAR’s constant receipt of the lowest national government allocation as compared to other regions, she explained that it has the highest capacity to generate local revenues, a major determinant of its potential for fiscal sustainability.
Director Lim suggested that local government units in CAR should lower their high Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) dependency ratio which ranges from 72 to 93 percent, broaden their tax base and increase efficiency in collecting revenues to improve their fiscal standing in preparation towards the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
Meanwhile, Cordillera RDC Vice-Chairperson and NEDA Director Milagros Rimando said the forum served as venue to learn and evaluate whether the Cordillera, as an autonomous region or as a federal state, can be financially sustainable.
She added that RDC-CAR is planning to partner with the Local Government Development Foundation and Philippine Institute for Development Studies for the conduct of fora within the year to help capacitate autonomy advocates to have a stronger position in arguing for the establishment of the autonomous region amidst the national government’s effort to shift to federal form of government.
Rimando also shared that NRO-CAR is coordinating with the NEDA Central Office regarding the funding of a study on the fiscal viability of the Cordillera as an autonomous region which could be used to strengthen the region’s position to demand for more shared resources from the national government for the region to survive and become a vehicle for economic development in the countryside.
The forum, coordinated by the RDC-CAR, was attended by local government assessors, line agency representatives, the academe and autonomy partners and advocates from the government and civil society organizations.
The NEDA-CAR official said the RDC-CAR will remain aggressive in advancing autonomy as its overarching agenda to boost socio-economic development in the countryside considering that autonomy has been seen as an important aspect of governance that will help move the people out from the shackles of poverty because the autonomous region will have greater control of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from outside forced.