BACOLOD

Ombion: Develop local solidarity economy

Perspective

THIS is an unsolicited proposal to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the local government units (LGUs), as well as to organized citizens groups.

Solidarity economy is one economic paradigm that could be pursued to ease the crippling impact of Covid-fueled crisis.

Unlike the bankrupt neoliberal economic model of government limiting itself to regulatory functions and allowing big monopoly businesses to control and run vital industries including agriculture – solidarity economy calls for the convergence of government, cooperatives, small agricultural producers, social enterprises and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to jointly undertake economic initiatives that respond to people’s urgent need for food, services and jobs.

The government has all the important resources, networks and powers to move local economy. The others have the realistic gut-feel, skills, experience and ground network to undertake local community and resource mobilization.

Never mind the big monopoly businesses, they have already amassed so much profit, including ill-gotten wealth, so much that the only worry left to them is how to sustain their insatiable desire for profit and extravagant lifestyle, notwithstanding their ability to play around with crisis and the government.

To converge the resources, skills and network of the government, and the organized citizens will automatically and steadily create enormous resources, powers and endless possibilities for food security, job generation and extensive social services.

The existing government structures like the Local Development Council (LDC) and the committees for special sectoral concerns cannot realize the development of local solidarity economy because their representations are limited and biased to the favored bets of the Local Chief Executives (LCEs) and politicians and are often encumbered by bureaucratism, turfism, power struggles and corruption.

The fact that until now many of the LGUs have not been able to come up with a comprehensive economic recovery plan amid Covid devastation is proof that the system is not working for the people.

The DILG, as the enforcer of Local Government Code (LGC) and the supervising institution of LGUs, can initiate through an Administrative Order the formation of Solidarity Economy Council (SEC) or People’s Economic Council (PEC) in the provincial, city and municipal levels, and whose bodies will have representatives from LDC, and from all the registered, accredited and non-accredited but active citizens economic organizations in every locality.

Under the baton of DILG, the SEC could set goals, policies, programs and doable activities that answer the problems of food security, job generation, social services, health concerns, and other relief and rehabilitation work.

The DILG could likewise mobilize the technical and financial support of concerned agencies like the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Transportation, Department of Tourism, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Science and Technology, among others. In fact, as a leading core member of ELCAC, DILG can move for the re-channeling of some of its huge funds for food security, jobs, social services and necessary infrastructure projects in support of the former.

If I may add, this solidarity economy paradigm is more than the program concept of BUB or Bottom’s Up Budgeting during Noynoy Aquino’s administration, where civil society organizations, non-government organizations, private organizations are involved in project planning and budgeting, although in the end, all plans and budget made were still subject to the dictate and manipulation of the LCEs and local politicians.

If BUB was considered a partial success, I don’t see any reason why SE and SEC could not be done when its project socio-economic impact could be greater than what BUB had achieved.

Again, as in my past contentions, this proposal is on the assumption that DILG will have the mindset and political will to take the initiative in this experiment. And the same for the citizens organizations who will give this an honest and best try despite the distrust and other odds surrounding the convergence and partnership.

Well, these words from Mother Teresa could be enlightening in this regard, "None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."


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