The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging local government units (LGUs) to start planning and budgeting for local recovery and rehabilitation now even if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is not yet over so that the economy can begin recovering from the deadly disease.
DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said that the DILG, with technical support of the World Bank, has developed the “Ready to Recover (We Rise as One) COVID-19 Local Recovery Planning Guide” to help the LGUs prepare and recover from the current health crisis.
“We need to recover now kahit ‘di pa tapos ang COVID-19 crisis kasi mas lalala ang epekto nito sa ekonomiya at kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan. The DILG is collaborating with other national government agencies in the Interagency Task Force (IATF) to help LGUs prepare their recovery strategies and programs. The goal is to build back better,” he said to local chief executives (LCEs) participating in a webinar.
The DILG Spokesperson said that with vast parts of the country now classified as low-risk, most of the country can now begin recovery efforts on the local level to protect jobs and stimulate economic activity. “With private consumption and investment still down, it is now up to the national and local governments to drive consumption and investment with government spending and policies that support the growth and recovery of local businesses,” said Malaya who is also chair of STG Governance of Task Group Recovery of NTF COVID-19.
“The Local Recovery and Planning Guide will simplify recovery and rehabilitation planning to give LGUs flexibility in interventions. It has sample frameworks, templates, and suggested programs, projects, and activities (PPAs). It will guide LGUs on the coordination of recovery efforts of national, regional, and local governments including the roles, responsibilities, and institutional structures,” he said.
Malaya said that LGUs need not create a new local body to do the local recovery planning and budgeting. He said this can be done through the creation of an economic cluster within the existing Local COVID-19 Task Force headed by a mayor or governor.
“The institutional set-up for recovery should be the same set-up for the Local COVID-19 Task Force. As this team responds to COVID-19, it should also be transitioning to recovery from its impacts. This ensures that recovery planning is done within the context of contact tracing, quarantine measures and the new normal. However, you can add as many members as you see fit,” he advised.
Financing COVID-19 Local Recovery
Malaya said that the DILG has identified at least 10 indicative fund source options based on existing government guidelines that can be tapped by implementing agencies or LGUs to help address the challenges of fund availability. It includes national government programs and financing assistance programs of select Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
The financing sources for LGUs’ recovery from the COVID-19 crisis are the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), and Quick Response Fund of select national government implementing agencies such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and Department of Health.
Other possible sources are the Local Government Support Fund – Financial Assistance to LGUs (LGSF – FA), LGSF –Assistance to Municipalities, Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Incentive Fund, Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI-CIDSS NCDDP), Regular Agency Budget, and the 20% Development Fund (DF).
“Hindi kayo basta iiwan na lang ng nasyunal na gobyerno. We will monitor your local recovery programs and projects and assess your progress to ensure you stay on track and achieve your intended results,” he assured.
Communicating rehab efforts
The DILG Spox also underscored the importance of LGUs’ communication efforts in informing their constituents of their initiatives to jumpstart local recovery.
“Minsan mahirap sa gobyerno ay tayo-tayo lang nakakaalam ng ginagawa natin. ‘Pag wala sa balita, akala ng mga tao walang ginagawa ang LGUs. Let’s make use of digital tools in communicating with the people. Maliban sa health care workers, LCEs are also heroes in this COVID-19 crisis,” Malaya said.
He urged LGUs to manage people’s expectations by providing proactive messages to address or clarify recovery issues. He advised the establishment of a feedback mechanism at the local level to allow affected communities to be heard and be responded to as well as to promote transparency and accountability throughout the recovery process.
“Lahat ng departamento ng LGUs ay dapat maalam sa inyong local recovery plan. Bawat departamento kasi ng LGUs ay may sariling stakeholders. Each personnel should be a communicator of your LGUs’ recovery plan,” he said during the first of the webinar series on “Facilitating Local Recovery and Rehabilitation in Light of the COVID-19” led by the DILG Bureau of Local Government Development (BLGD) in partnership with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).