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Camarines Sur partition uneconomical, inefficient, says UP think tank

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 10:19 PM August 05, 2011

Carving out a new province from the existing area of Camarines Sur may become a costly undertaking that could diminish the economic potential of the province that has gained fame as one of the country’s best tourist attractions, according to the preliminary findings of a University of the Philippines-based think tank.

According to the Center for Local and Regional Governance, the proposed creation of the province of “Nueva Camarines” would mean the allocation of at least P280 million to put up its own provincial capitol building, another P409 million for administrative expenses and P465 million more for its budget in 2012 alone.

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The remainder of old CamSur province, in turn, would suffer from the loss of territory, political clout and income—possibly prompting it to meet its financial requirements by raising taxes or imposing new ones, and reducing employee headcount because of the needed downsizing at the provincial capitol.

Economic hemorrhage

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The Center for Local and Regional Governance which is conducting the study is a unit of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance.

A smaller Camarines Sur provincial government would have to downsize and seek funding elsewhere because it will have a smaller population to serve, a smaller land area to cover and lower income—from revenues from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and real property taxes—to support its delivery of services.

In its partial report, the UP think tank said the proposed split would induce an economic hemorrhage for Camarines Sur, while the new province would have to struggle with the various annual costs of running a province and subsidizing component LGUs under its responsibility.

This scenario would lead to a sharp deterioration in the quality of social services, such as education and health care, now being enjoyed by the people of Camarines Sur, according to the study being done by a research team led by Dr. Alex Brillantes.

The preliminary findings echo the conclusions of a 2005 study by the Local Government Development Foundation (Logodef) and the German foundation Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung which pointed out that carving a new province out of an existing one would only lead to two weak LGUs and require almost P800 million in startup funds.

Factoring inflation into the 2005 findings would mean that the start-up funds could reach P1.4 billion once adjusted to 2011 prices.

House nod

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Prior to its adjournment, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 4728 that seeks to separate Iriga City and the 15 municipalities of Camarines Sur’s 4th and 5th legislative districts into a new province to be named Nueva Camarines.

Local elective officials and leaders of the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce have separately denounced this bill, which was principally authored by Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, and called on the Senate to save the province’s growth momentum by junking HB4728.

“Considering that the present Camarines Sur invests highly in social programs especially on education and health, we estimate that the new province will not be able to provide the same level and quality of social services,” the UP study pointed out.

It further said the new province “will only be able to offer a portion of its 20 percent Development Fund for social services,” considering that there are other competing concerns such as economic and infrastructure expenditures.

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