Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘IRA’

Universal Health Care in the Philippines?

Posted by butalidnl on 25 March 2010

Universal health care in the Philippines? Well, probably not right away. But we could work on it a little. I was thinking more in terms of providing a basic publicly funded health service for most of the population, at affordable prices.

A basic ingredient to this health service is to provide health care professionals all throughout the country, especially in the countryside.  A key to doing this, I think, will be to make sure that there are enough doctors who will stay put in the countryside posts that they will be assigned to. Then, it will be an easier task to make sure that urban public hospitals are well staffed.

The emphasis should be on doctors, since nurses are in abundance these days, at least in the cities. I propose that the government take care of the education of a certain percentage of doctors that the country produces.  Let 10% of medical students be government funded. The government will pay for most of their education (leaving perhaps PhP 20,000/year as student contribution, and covering the remaining PhP 100,000/year tuition), and in return, the doctors are required to spend 5 years in a rural posting, with the option to stay on, on a government salary.

A result of this would be that in a matter of 5 years or so, the country will have a steady supply of rural doctors ready to be assigned anywhere in the country.  And that they will not have a need to charge high fees even when they are released from government service, since they didn’t spend so much to study medicine.

The funding for health services would come from the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) that local governments receive.  LGUs receive these funds automatically; and it was sort of understood that in turn they would provide certain services to their constituents. However, many of them aren’t.  I think the national government should pass a law requiring all municipalities to provide public health facilities – e.g. clinics staffed with doctors, nurses and midwives, and enough medicines and other supplies.

And lastly, I think the government should set up public pharmacies in all towns; so as to service the needs of the far-flung rural population. These pharmacies should make available generic drugs where possible, and branded drugs that have been discounted.

With these things in place, we may not yet have universal health care, but we sure would be well on our way to providing it.

Posted in Philippines | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Reduce IRAs of “non-performing” LGUs?

Posted by butalidnl on 9 February 2010

On 8 February, Noynoy Aquino proposed that the Internal Revenue Allotments of  Local Government Units (LGUs) which do not do their work well should be trimmed down. It’s a nice thought, coming from the idea of reducing waste in government expenditure. The problem with it, however, is that to do so would mean an increase in the president’s prerogatives, of which he has already too many. And if the president will be the one to decide which LGUs to cut the IRAs of, he could very well reduce the IRAs of provinces, cities or municipalities ruled by the opposition.

The Local Government Code, which among other things, provides for the Internal Revenue Allotments of LGUs, also provides for the automatic release of these funds. And with reason. This is to prevent national government tinkering with these funds in order to control the LGUs. I think it is a good idea for the release of these funds to be automatic.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to set up rules (or even pass a law amending the Local Government Code) which would spell out what it means to have a “non-performing LGU”, and then to prescribe exactly how much IRA reduction that will be imposed on it, and what the LGU needs to do to get its allotment restored. This way, the reduction of IRA will go about in an automatic way – that is, devoid of “presidential prerogative”.

Looking into the Local Government Code provision on IRAs, it specifies that the  allotment per LGU is determined on the basis of 50% population, 25% land area, and 25% equal sharing – this, after the initial division of the total internal revenue taxes by: provinces (23%), cities (23%), municipalities (34%) and baranggays (20%) . Now, I see the 25% “equal sharing” as unfairly benefitting small, less populous LGUs.  I suspect that many of the “not well spent” IRAs is connected to this amount given to small LGUs. Why not just eliminate this item altogether? And then make the division into 2/3 population, and 1/3 territory. This would make the allotments go more to the more populous and bigger LGUs who actually need more of the money, and perhaps are finding it hard to finance all their expenses.

And perhaps the IRA amounts should be published by the government on the internet,  as a step towards transparency. This way, the IRA amounts will be known to be public. Of course, it would be best if the full accounts of LGUs  also be on the internet.

Posted in Philippine economics, Philippine politics, Philippines, politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »