Mayor Ferdie Estrella did not deny that he is a bit worried about the seeming deterioration of the Local Government of Baliwag’s competitiveness in particular, its capacity to implement various revenue generation programs. Gross revenue is one of the indicators in measuring over-all competitiveness.
While, Baliwag remains to be in the top 5, its IRA dependency to climb year per year, an indication that the LGU is failing to generate locally sourced revenue. Mas magaling mag manage ang national government sa atin, Mayor Estrella quipped. Further, our revenue may be increasing but not as much as compared to let us say, Marilao or Sta. Maria, both of which are growing rapidly, more than double. In fact, these two municipalities are in the top 10 LGU revenue earners in the country today, he added.
In the last National Competitiveness Council survey, Sta Maria placed 7th, down by 5 notches from its 2nd rank the previous year. Marilao placed 12th, an improvement by 2 notches. Sadly, Baliwag was ranked 960th, spiraling downwards year per year.
Bankers Club of Baliwag
In January of this year, Mayor Ferdie invited the members of the Bankers Club of Baliwag to a dialogue. During the meeting, the local chief executive discussed three issues to wit: 1. Failure of banks to recognize revenue locally; 2. Implementation of the BIR regulation, defining ATM as a branch and lastly, 3. Non-payment of local taxes for their ancillary products like Insurance.
There is a school of thought, that banks fuel the economy by priming it with cash to accelerate business growth. Unfortunately, the way banks are doing is a complete paradox for local governments that host them. Hindi ata patas yun na, an average stall owner at the public market will pay about just the same amount as a universal bank.
The problem can be traced from the manner by which banks file their income. Most banks file their income thru the head office. The head office consolidate its income.
Hindi ata patas yun. That is not aligned with our #magkakatuwang (partners in growth) mantra. What makes the matter worse? Aba, magbebenta sila ng insurance, maglalagay ng booth o lamesa sa branch nila tapos, hindi man lang papartehan ang LGU ng share. Yet, our exposure level in terms of security remained high. How can we upgrade our facilties kung puro Makati or Fort lang pinapaunlad nila. Do we not buy security equipment, police vehicles or roads? I will demand fair payment of taxes not only it is right but also socially responsible.
A municipality like Baliwag which is 60 percent retail must have an intelligent data mine to be able to collect taxes efficiently. Kulang ang consciousness sa tax. They see it as an additional burden more than an investment.
Baliwag has thousands of traders but only two-thirds (2/3) apply for business permits mostly under declared.
Can we blame a people whose trust had been badly bruised and beaten?
Aside from the lack of knowledge about paying taxes or securing permits, people’s apathy was due to a series of unfortunate events. In the millenial phrase, NAGBAYAD, NALOKO, NASAKTAN may aptly used. Thess people might have lost the appetite to be socially relevant because of the issues politicians hurled at each other? Government is plagued by corruption scandals worth by the billions.
Tumaya tayo sa kinabukasan ng mga bata, sa kinabukasan ng mga anak natin. Let us take the chance again.
As you try once more, when you see an ambulance speed up with its siren wailing; or a Rescuer attends to a victim; when you see a community worker acompanying a sickly man to a hospital; a community worker knocking on your door delivering your maintenance drugs; when you left your bag and a taffic enforcer returning it, you might as well smile because it happened, because you believed.