Council approves 2016 budget, midyear bonus for employees

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - June 29, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Casual and regular employees of the Cebu City government will be receiving their midyear bonus within the week after the four-man City Council approved the P6.060 billion Annual Budget for this year yesterday.

The only item deleted in the proposed P6.062 billion Annual Budget was the P2 million proposed budget for renovation, equipment, and furniture for the office of Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

“Our party (Team Rama) found it an unnecessary expense considering there is already a provision for the mayor's office, existing naman,” said Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, the author of the budget ordinance.

One of the highlights of the items approved is the P88 million midyear bonus for employees, which is equivalent to one month of their salary.

The council asked the executive department to give the bonus on or before June 30.

It is also on this end when the term of officials elected in 2013, as well as the services of some casual employees, will end.

Cuenco admitted that incoming councilors from Team Rama were part of the discussion on the proposed P6 billion budget a night before yesterday’s session.

"There are other more important expenditures to spend on. Besides, the Office of the Mayor already has its own budget. There is lack of material time to make other adjustments. It will be so messy na. It would take so much time. So, finally, the four of us decided to reduce it to its minimum," Cuenco said.

The councilors remaining in the council include Cuenco, Richard Osmeña, ex-officio member Phillip Zafra and acting vice mayor Lea Japson, who presided over the session. The others, including Mayor Michael Rama and Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, were suspended over the controversial release of the P20,000 calamity aid to City Hall employees in 2013.

"We decided to reduce it because it would be wise considering that we are already in the half of the year," Cuenco said.

The council also slashed to P3.5 million the proposed P5 million budget for city sponsored activities and transferred the P1.5 million to the amortization payment for the South Road Properties (SRP) loan.

“As to the city sponsored activities, we have expended half of the year, we opted it wiser to transfer it to the penalties and interest kay dunay apprehensions ang budget officer and the city treasure ang interest,” Cuenco said.

Sought for comment, acting mayor Margarita Osmeña said, “It’s fine, then we'll do without it.”

Margot said the move of Team Rama members is a “sign of things to come” when they assume office starting next month.

The landscape at the city government has shifted as the incoming council will be composed mostly of Team Rama councilors while the executive department will be headed by a member of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, incoming mayor Tomas Osmeña.

This is an exact opposite of the leadership in the past three years.

Tomas, for his part, said he is considering of returning the budget the council approved and operate on a reenacted budget, instead.

“I can live with the reenacted budget. That’s fine with me. And I’m thinking of doing that. When Mike Rama spent P20 million to renovate his office, I only asked for P2 million. Nevermind, I’ll do it myself. It doesn’t matter. Maybe, I won’t even accept the budget,” he said.

“I’m prepared to live with a reenacted budget even for next year,” he added.

Among the items approved are the P8 million for the special Program for Affected Families (Families affected by the Road Widening in Barangay Talamban to Barangay Pit-os; P6.5 million for the rehabilitation and reconditioning of dental chairs; P392.1 million payment of the SRP loan; terminal leave benefits P10 million; monetization of leave credits P1 million; Incentive Awards for City Scholars who graduated with honors amounting to P3.5 million; City Sponsored Activities amounting to P3.5 million; Extraordinary / Discretionary Fund P500,000.

As of now, the city government is operating on a reenacted budget after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) rejected the P6.4 billion budget approved for the year after the city failed to appropriate over P300 million for the amortization of SRP loan. (FREEMAN)

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