P5.2B city budget ‘better than nothing’

Posted on December 28, 2012


Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama didn’t get his P6.7 billion budget for next year but he said the P5.2 billion budget approved yesterday by the City Council was “better than nothing.”

Rama said he will tap private sector partners to help carry out projects not funded in the annual budget.

“Even if the 2012 budget was slashed, the city did not suffer from drought because the private sector came in to fill it up,” he said.

Councilor Margot Osmeña and Councilor Joey Daluz, an ally of Mayor Michael Rama, engage in serious talk during the Dec. 14, 2012 meeting of the Cebu City Development Council. (TONEE DESPOJO)

Councilor Margot Osmeña and Councilor Joey Daluz, an ally of Mayor Michael Rama, engage in serious talk during the Dec. 14, 2012 meeting of the Cebu City Development Council. (TONEE DESPOJO)

What the council approved in an ordinance sponsored by Councilor Margot Osmeña was P1.5 billion less than Rama’s proposal and about P100 million less than the current year’s budget of P5.3 billion.

Osmeña acknoweldged it was a “limited amount” and said the council was ready to augment it for “urgent and necessary” needs as the year goes on.

Several new infrastructure projects proposed by the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) were deferred because pending projects still need to be completed.

A P38 million outlay proposed for the purchase of mini dump trucks for 36 barangays was also reduced.

What was increased was spending for senior citizen assistance which went up from P300 million this year to P600 million next year.

This allows each registered senior citizen in Cebu City to receive P10,000 cash, the amount Mayor Rama promised during his State of the City Address in June.

The City Council also approved an increase in financial assistance to Persons with Disabilities (PWD) from P3,000 to a new amount of P12,000 each.

The budget for allowances of day care teachers was also increased from P7 million this year to P12 million next year.

Dec. 30 is the deadline for passage of the annual budget otherwise Cebu City would have to rely on a reenacted 2012 budget.

Rama said he was thankful it did not come to that.

Osmeña said they had to maximize available funds to cover priority expenses.

In her committee report, Osmeña presented historical data of the city’s local tax collection efficiency.

Based on the city treasurer’s office (CTO), Cebu City was unable to meet its tax collection target to fund this year’s P5.3 billion budget.

The CTO collected only P3.4 billion as of October 30.

“Even if there is an appropriated budget, this does not necessarily mean that funds are automatically available as clearly stated by heads and representatives of four departments, namely the City Health, Hospitals, DEPW and the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP). There were procurements that were delayed because they were told not to process their papers as funds are not available at that time,” said Osmeña’s report.

Osmeña said the approval of the P5.2 billion budget for 2013 was also based on the assurance of acting city Treasurer Emma Villarete that her office will collect P4 billion in local taxes next year.

The balance of P1.2 billion will come from other revenue sources like the auction and disposal of real properties and the collection of the city’s share from the joint venture with Filinvest Land Inc. in the South Road Properties.

She said the budget committee was guided by the principle that this is “not just the city’s money.”

“This involves people’s funds and it is the duty of city officials to protect public funds and ensure that it is used wisely and for the purposes intended,” said Osmeña in her report delivered following a series of City Council budget hearings.

Osmeña said the P1.5 billion reduction in the 2013 budget was taken mostly from capital outlays.

Councilor Joey Daluz, an ally of Mayor Rama, asked for a breakdown of that reduction. Osmeña noted teh request, saying it will be given once it is finalized. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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