Cebu City Council cuts P24 million from supplemental budget

Posted on November 15, 2012

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After more than a year of dealing with an unfriendly Cebu City Council, Mayor Michael Rama has something to be thankful for.

Except for some wrangling on fuel allocations and the honoraria for sanitation workers, the council yesterday finally approved supplemental budget 2.

But the council cut out P24.1 million from the original request of P267.7 million including half of the P30 million request for fuel allocation.

The council said the amounts asked for by the mayor exceeded actual needs.

“What matters is that it (SB2) has been approved. The P243.6 million SB2 was enough to answer the needs of the people. That’s better than nothing at all,” Rama said.

Councilor Margot Osmeña, budget committee chairperson, presented the long-delayed budget to the council for third and final reading.

The appropriation she presented was for P259.6 million or P8.1 million less than the P267.7 million Rama asked for. A further cut was made.

Breakdown

Osmeña said there were some adjustments in the amount requested compared to what was needed.

She cited the P3 million proposed outlay for the city’s scholarship program.

Attached documents only showed that the program only needed P2.4 million, she said.

A P10 million budget for security services was cut to P6 million while funds for garbage tipping fee payments was cut from P17 million to P14 million.

Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa said the P30 million asked by the mayor covered 30 percent of this year’s P100 million fuel budget when the city only has two more months left to buy fuel for before the year ends.

“The amount (P30 million) is well beyond what is actually needed,” he said.

Abellanosa said General Services Office (GSO) chief Rolando Ardosa should give the council with a breakdown of the city’s fuel use.

Consumption

He said he wanted to know how much fuel is used by garbage trucks, heavy equipment and luxury vehicles which Rama gave to the barangays.

Abellanosa complained that councilors like him are forced to subsidize half of their fuel needs after Rama imposed a 50 percent cut on their 300 liters fuel allocation per month starting September.

Reading a GSO breakdown of the P30 million fuel request, Osmeña said the bulk of the appropriation amounting to P23.9 million will be spent on diesel purchases at P44 per litter.

The city is estimated to need 229,000 litters of diesel for the months of November and December.

Part of the appropriation will also be spent to pay for the city’s diesel consumption of 86,000 liters in October.

Part of the P30 million appropriation amounting to P4 million will be spent on unleaded gasoline estimated to cost P52.50 per litter.

The city government is projected to consume 38 liters of gasoline for the next two months.

Assumption

The remaining P2 million will be spent for lubricants.

“We have to know if the amount (spent on fuel) is properly used. It is for the mayor to make sure that the bulk of the amount is spent on what matters most,” Abellanosa said.

In yesterday’s council session, Abellanosa also urged the council to only approve P10 million for the city’s fuel allocation for November and December which Councilor Jose Daluz III, Rama’s ally in the council, objected to.

Daluz said the city’s fuel supply should be good until January 2013 or until such time that it can negotiate with suppliers.

“If not, we will start the new year without any gasoline allocation,” he said.

Councilor Margot Osmeña said when the council approved the P100 million fuel allocation for 2012 they were under the impression that there was still several litters of unused fuel supply worth over P100 million at the city depot.

She said they based their assumption on the inventory report from the city accountant office only to find out later that “the books were not in order.”

Honorarium

To end their lengthy discussion, the Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) dominated council agreed to approve P15 million for additional fuel purchase.

The honorarium for members of the City Environment Sanitation Enforcement Team (CESET) was also cut from P5.3 million to only P4.3 million.

Councilor Nida Cabrera said the CESET personnel already received their honorarium for August.

She said the P5.3 million budget request included on SB2 was computed to pay the honorarium for CESET personnel for August to December.

Daluz said it could be possible that there were still CESET personnel who haven’t been paid their August honorarium.

Still, Mayor Rama thanked the council for approving the supplemental budget.

“The most important thing is that the people’s need will be answered,” Rama said after hearing about the reduced supplemental budget 2 that he presented to the council last July.

Surplus

Newly arrived BO-PK leader Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district chided Rama for mismanaging the city government’s resources.

“Why do you run out of fuel when you can buy P100 million worth of brand new vehicles and give out P100 million in bonuses? Now it is the fault of BO-PK that there is no fuel,” he said in a press conference yesterday afternoon.

Osmeña said this is the first time that the city government is running low on fuel and has millions in unpaid electricity bill.

“Rama has nobody to blame except himself,” the former city mayor said.

Osmeña said the city never experienced that during his administration and he even left a P1 billion surplus after being elected to Congress.

“No matter how rich the government is and you don’t manage it well, you will run out of money,” he said. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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