Dialogue with the NGAs
Ballroom, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Makati City
31 May 2011
The idea of decentralization and local governance has been so revolutionary that inevitably, much expectation and optimism has been placed on the concept. However, the continued strong political influence of the national government, legal restrictions, failure to actualize decentralization beyond administration and lack of clear policy directions, fiscal and technical capacities among others have contributed to the underwhelming results and lethargic performance of some local governments. It is therefore not completely unthinkable that the clamor to revert back to the national government some devolved services has been launched.
Using this as a take off point, the Philippine Consortium of Good Local Governance (PCGLG), The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) held the first leg of the Policy Forum last December 2010, focusing on four key areas: Environment, Agriculture, Health and Social Services. The discussion convened local government officials, bureaucrats, and members of the academe and the civil society to determine the way forward: Whether or not the devolved services should be reverted back to the national government to address the widening gap between the public needs/expectations and government performance. The participants failed to establish a categorical stand on the issue mainly due to differing and unique experiences of local governments; however, the imperative need for a local-central dialogue was clearly realized.
The Part II of the Policy Forum provided a venue where local governments and the national government agencies could sit down and talk to establish their converging paths and diverging points on the issue. More than a talk shop, this forum aimed to help in harmonizing local and central relations and efforts in providing efficient public services and effective policies to foster cooperative, participative and inclusive governance.