EVEN while Baguio City has acquired an increased national tax allotment (NTA) for the year 2022, City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente said that the next two years will see a strain on the city budget.
According to Clemente, the main reason for the decreased NTA across all local governments nationwide is the continued economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic on the national government’s tax collection revenue.
Even as the newly-implemented Mandanas-Garcia ruling increased the city’s NTA for the year, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already forewarned governments nationwide of the expected cut in NTA funding in the coming years.
For 2022, the ruling gave the city some 37 percent more NTA than the previous year, an increase worth P380 million, but Clemente says that the city will see that figure decrease in 2023 and 2024 as the national gross domestic product (GDP) slowly recovers from the pandemic period.
With the expected decrease in budget in the coming years, Clemente said that the city is now working on enticing investors to operate and invest in the city, provide employment opportunities, and help revive the local economy to boost revenue from local sources.
Meanwhile, funding for COVID-19 response has also been drastically slashed, citing an improving situation decreasing the need for more budget.
Over the past two years of pandemic, some P377 million worth of COVID-19 funding was allocated and used in the city’s pandemic response; but in 2022, Clemente said that the city only has P75.9 million to work with.
According to Clemente, the bulk of the COVID-19 expenditures went to emergency hiring of health workers to man the healthcare and isolation facilities that were both already present or made or converted to medical use over the course of the pandemic, as well as the procurement of medical supplies.