The shift to a federal form of government is an investment that is like moving into a new home, according to the Consultative Committee that developed the draft federalism charter.
Consultative Committee (Concom) member Professor Edmund Tayao compared the shift to moving to a new house that will entail additional expenses at the start but generally improves the stature and condition of the occupants.
“Just because you have additional expense when changing the form of government doesn’t mean that that additional expense will be there forever. Additional costs in federalizing the country is an investment that would boost the country’s economic activity later on,” said Tayao.
Tayao, one of the resource persons during a Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-organized media forum in Tacloban City, was reacting to criticisms from the country’s economic managers that federalism will derail the economy of the Philippines.
According to Tayao, Ethiopia and Kenya have been performing well economically since they federalized.
Ethiopia was introduced to a federal system in 1995 and has since experienced a successful rise in its gross domestic product (GDP), recording at 10.2% in 2017, an improvement from its 3.2% growth in 2014, the year before it shifted to federalism.
Kenya’s economy, on the other hand, shot up in 2010, the year it federalized, but experienced a slowdown in 2017 because of a drought. Thereafter, growth has recovered and stabilized.
In the same vein, Tayao explained, economic activity in the regions is expected to improve when they are given the power and funds to implement projects and programs for development.
But while the revenue share of the regions will increase under federalism, regional and local governments have the responsibility in the allocation of its funds.
“Federalism will give you lots of money but only because it will give you lots of function,” said Tayao.
He added that Federalism is the opportunity the Philippines must take advantage of to make the economic development of the regions comparable to that of Metro Manila.
“What will it take for comparable growth rates to happen? Federalism is the answer because it is the opportunity to amalgamate,” said Tayao.
On the issue regarding additional expenses as a result of the expected increase in the number of civil servants in the regions, Tayao said that when the national government devolves, some national civil servants will transfer to the regions, so the expense on salaries for regional hires will not be too heavy for the economy as a whole.
He added that Federalism will not bring the same bureaucracy of the national government to the regions.
Federalism, according to him, is the initiative needed to put the country in order.
“We are entering into something that spells the change that we want to have – the change we want even in the countryside,” affirmed Eastern Visayas’ Regional Director Marivel C. Sacendoncillo.
The DILG is currently in Tacloban City for its 5th Federalism Roadshow. DILG