Cebu News

Cebu City 2016 annual funds: Executive department eyes reenacted budget

May B. Miasco/RHM - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City executive department will compare the items in this year’s annual budget with that in the 2016 annual budget, which the City Council recently approved but of an amount that is less than the P8.9 billion proposed.

City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said they will weigh their options after studying this year’s P13.4 billion budget and the P6.5 billion that the opposition-dominated council approved last week.

She said, though, that they would see if having the P6.5-billion budget is better or not compared to having the 2015 budget reenacted.

“We will have a comparative study and we will look into the (budget ordinances in) 2015 and 2016….  We will compare and see what will be most advantageous for the city, would that be the reenactment (of the current budget) or the approved budget for 2016,” she said.

She told reporters yesterday that they will hold another conference with concerned offices to discuss the matter following the executive department’s meeting with the Local Finance Committee yesterday.

“We had a meeting with the Local Finance Committee, with its extended members. Since there was no official (present), we will meet again,” said Mercado.

She said she instructed the City Budget Office to specify the individual items in the 2015 and the 2016 approved annual budgets for them to scrutinize before they would resort to any measures.

“We want to compare (and so I) requested from the Budget Office to itemize and to present (the items in) 2015 and 2016.... We will be considering several angles (to prioritize) always the welfare of the city,” Mercado said.

The executive department is still collating all available data, including a copy of the recently approved budget ordinance.

She said that with the 2016 annual budget approved last week, there might be pressure for the City Council to already act on passage of Supplemental Budget-1, which the council as a body controlled by the opposition has refused to tackle.

The appropriation for the amortization of the South Road Properties loan was excluded from the proposed 2016 budget since the city officials thought that the City council would approve this year’s P2.8-billion SB-1.

The pending SB-1 contains its biggest appropriation of P2.4 billion in prepayment for the outstanding balance of the SRP loan.

“They (city councilors) are supposed to act on this (SB-1) before the year ends. How many days left? Six working days for this week and next week… We can’t just shelve it (SB-1). Actually, the burden is with them since they have to do something about it,” said Mercado.

Acting mayor Edgardo Labella, however, chose not to issue any statement on the possibility of discarding the use of SRP revenue to fund the items in SB-1.

“Insofar as the SRP source of funds, I would rather discuss on that as soon as I shall have received a copy of the budget ordinance. I would rather not discuss it now because I have not received a copy,” he told a press conference yesterday.

The council has suspended deliberation on SB-1 since the court still had to render its final ruling on the case filed by one Romulo Torres, who questioned the use of the SRP revenue to finance SB-1.

Labella, however, said there is a “compelling need” for the City Council to already tackle SB-1 so the city could already pay in full its SRP loan.

“It has always been the position of the mayor (Michael Rama) that the SRP loan should be paid fully because we have the money, we have the proceeds and sale…. The loan should be fully paid and no one can dispute the fact that it would be greatly advantageous to the city if we pay the loan rather than go on with our yearly amortization,” he said.

The city government appropriated P500 million in previous years annually for the loan amortization, which is paid every February and August of the year.  (FREEMAN)




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