MAGANES: Mortgaging Pangasinan’s future

June 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment


vir
I was deeply annoyed by the Espino Administration’ penchant for resorting to loans just to funds projects when in fact our annual budget for 2015 totals to P2.7 billion.
Personally, I am not against by local government units (LGUs) availing of loans from banking institutions to finance their pet programs and projects when their annual budgets are not enough. This practice has been resorted to by LGUs to fast track their projects using their internal revenue allotment (IRA) share as collaterals.
However, if this practice has been being used for so many times, this goes to show that the LGUs are not financially stable, thus the infusion of external funds to beef up their budgets.
Pangasinan is a large province. It has all the means to self-finance its development activities. Local programs and projects must just be carefully budgeted within the framework of strategic planning and cost effectiveness. In short, programs and projects that will have great effect and impacts to the constituents being served must be prioritized particularly on the spheres of basic services.

For calendar year 2015, Pangasinan’s annual appropriations total to P2.7 billion. Of that amount 20% or a total of P690 million is set aside for development funds. This will be used to sustain programs and projects aside from other non-office appropriations, which are line-budgeted.

We have enough funds as shown by the annual budget of 2015. But why is the provincial government still resorting to borrowing funds from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of P758 million? For an ordinary citizen who cannot easily figure out what the loan is all about, here it is:

Last June 22, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved an ordinance granting authority to Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. to avail loans from LBP purportedly to fund infrastructure projects and economic activities in the province. The loan availment shall be accompanied by the list of projects to be funded spread out (supposedly) within the six districts of the province. Prior to its approval, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan questioned the ordinance since they opined that list of projects must be attached. They complained but after a recess called by Vice Governor Ferdinand Calimlim Jr., they eventually acceded to approve the same.

With its approval, Pangasinan’s loans ballooned to P1.16 billion since there was still a balance of the previous loans in the amount of P405 million. Espino administration started to get loans from LBP in June 2008, a year after he was sworn in as the governor of his first term. Within that period until now on his third term, there seems to be a vicious cycle of acquiring loans, to the detriment of the people’s taxes since a large portion of interest goes to the LBP. Why such the desire of loaning and mortgaging our IRA? Why should Espino stake our future?

With the new loan from LBP, the next governor will still be paying the amortization and interests for 10 years. That is approximately P200 million a year. Besides, we have not seen the projects and programs where the previous loans have been spent.
All right. Let’s talk about the opportunity cost, meaning the value of money today is greater than that in the future that’s why external borrowings are resorted to. But then, my question is: Were the projects implemented out of the loans revenue generating? Were the projects have great impacts to the areas where they have been constructed? Have they contributed economic gains to the coffer of the provincial government?

Let us all be watchful. It’s already election time. Was the loan availed of in “aid of election”? Just asking!

(For comments, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com. Visit my blog The Roving Pen at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. For radio commentaries, tune in to Bombo Radyo Dagupan, 1125 KHZ, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 6:30-7:00 AM- ” GISING PANGASINAN”)

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Entry filed under: News.

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