THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) is asking National Government agencies to avoid duplicating services that have been devolved to local government units (LGUs) in its national budget call for 2023.

DBM in a national budget memorandum dated Jan. 12 noted the increase in resources made available to LGUs.

“National Government agencies should refrain from duplicating the direct delivery of devolved functions and services with the LGUs, and rather focus on capacitating and monitoring the LGUs and shift to addressing emerging national program concerns,” DBM said.

This should be consistent with strategies that agencies outlined in their devolution transition plans, the department added.

The Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling is named after Batangas Governor Hermilando I. Mandanas who successfully challenged the government’s previous position that LGUs were entitled to a smaller share of National Government funds.

Starting this year, LGUs get a bigger share of the National Government’s tax collections, alongside the transfer of basic services.

DBM in the memorandum said regional needs are expected to be prioritized in national plans. At the same time, regional plans should be aligned with set national priorities.

“Regional agency programs must also be responsive to the needs of the poorest, disadvantaged but well-performing LGUs in their sectors,” DBM said. “Agency programs to be implemented by LGUs shall have been coordinated with the targeted LGUs as to the resource availabilities and should be responsive to local and regional needs.”

The Finance department has said the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling would lead to lower economic growth because the higher tax allocation for local government units would dampen spending efficiency.

Meanwhile, Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy (I-LEAD) Executive Director Zy-za Nadine Suzara said spending inefficiencies by LGUs will not deter economic growth because a greater bulk of the budget remains with the National Government.

The 2023 budget will include only implementation-ready agency proposals to improve efficiency in delivering public services, DBM said. — Jenina P. Ibañez