Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale has asked the Dept. of Interior and Local Government to conduct a “thorough audit” of finances of the Capitol a day after the provincial treasurer reported cash flow problems and P200 million in payables.
Magpale, who described the situation as apparent “deficit spending”, said she wrote the DILG central office for an audit to determine the actual status as of Dec. 19, when she was installed as acting chief executive.
As a solution, Magapale said the Capitol would make “staggered payments” to meet obligations since the P90 million available cash from the General Fund reported by Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre was not enough to pay all bills immediately.
Suppliers and other companies which presented bills to her office “agreed to accept staggered payments.”
She said Cebu province’s share of taxes, a P180 million monthly Internal Revnue Allotment from the national government, would arrive in January, which would ease the situation.
“We will be using next year’s IRA,” she said to meet obligations.
Magpale was sharply criticized by suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for “destroying the image of Cebu” by publicly announcing a “misleading” financial picture.
“I am only presenting the facts and the truth,” said Magpale, who said this is the reason she had Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre discuss the cash report.
“This is in line with our promise for transparency. I want to start right. How do we start right if I don’t tell the people what’s the real situation?”
Salubre was clear when he said the provincial government can’t pay all claims at this time, she said. This is not bankruptcy, since the province has over P28 billion in assets.
Magpale said she was shocked by the treasurer’s report because she thought Cebu province was “debt-free” as mentioned by Garcia during her State of the Province Address last year.
The unpaid bill of Perfect Clean General Services, a manpower agency in Talisay City, was not just P13 million but P26 million for its services this year, said Magpale, updating her figures.
The agency, which supplies outsourced services of doctors and nurses in Cebu’s district hospitals as well as janitors in the Capitol, the Cebu International Convention Center and other province-owned facilities, wrote to Magpale that it would not renew its contract after the expiry in Dec. 31 because of the difficulty of collecting payment.
Magpale said the company wanted to pull out as early as May because of this problem.
She said she signed a renewal for two months, just to ensure continued services.
“We have 740 outsourced personnel from Perfect Clean, 80 of them are doctors and nurses. The hospital chiefs asked who would be on duty if they are all pulled out by the agency? So I assuered them, that upon the recommendation of the outsource committee, I already signed their renewal for two months.”
The P26 million bill will not be paid in full in January but on a staggered basis.
Governor Garcia challenged Magpale to a debate on the Capitol budget but the acting governor didn’t bite.
“Let’s not distract the people from what’s the truth,” said the acting governor.
She said she would focus on her day-to-day work and not be “distracted” by raw reports of a “Freedom March” being planned by Garcia’s supporters.
“I will not be distracted by what they are doing. I already issued a directive to the police to observe super maximum tolerance.”
She repeated that if a court order is issued to step down, “ I would not stay a minute longer or use people to rally for me.”
Meanwhile, Garcia continued to criticize Magpale as “overacting” and lacking knowledge of budget processes in the province.
She said Magpale failed to present funding sources and that some payables already have checks issued for payment but were placed on hold by Magaple.
Garcia said she signed a P20 million check for school supplies in November and another P6 million for road aspahlting in Alegria town.
“Cheke nani. Duna nay gigahin ani nga pondo,” she said.
She said the treasurer would not prepare checks if the budget officer won’t certify that funds are available.
Garcia said a P68 million bill for for new air-conditioned tourist buses for the Suroy-Suroy program is still being verified since paperwork wasn’t complete. /Sean Timothy Salvador, Correspondent