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Cebu News

City Council approves extra P1.9 billion budget

Alicia Ivy L. Chua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Cebu City Council yesterday approved Supplemental Budget No. 3 (SB-3) amounting to P1.9 billion, which includes appropriations for aid for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and hazard pay for essential barangay workers.

Seventeen council members voted for the measure, while Councilor Nestor Archival was the only one who voted against it.

Mayor Edgardo Labella originally asked for P3.3 billion but the council stemmed it to P1.9 billion following deliberations yesterday.

The P1.9 billion is broken down as follows: P500 million for food supplies for COVID-19 affected households; hazard pay which was increased to include barangay workers, P322 million; the Cebu City senior citizens program, P450 million; PWD welfare program, P55 million; city hospitalization assistance and medicines program (CHAMP), P100 million; and CCMC construction, P500 million.

During the session, Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, who sponsored the measure, said that the committee on local finance recommended for the removal of the infrastructure expenditures under the original request of Labella.

The decision was arrived at after some council members pointed out that these appropriations are not urgent at this time.

Among the appropriations removed were the P240 million for the Cebu City command center, P100 million for the archives building, and P60 million for the renovation of the legislative building.

“These items of infrastructure are recommended to be deferred as the handling of the COVID-19 situation in the city must take priority during this time,” said Garcia.

CCMC budget questioned

Some councilors have expressed their reservations and concerns regarding the P500 million allotment for CCMC construction.

Archival said this is not urgent at the moment.

“For me, this is not in line with what is required because when you sponsor, when you are going to approve a supplemental budget, it is very clear in the manual that it should be urgent and necessary. Urgent and necessary (expenses) are the only things that should be carried,” Archival said.

“That is why all other things like food and hazard pay, there is no problem with me, but putting a P500 million for the CCMC, which cannot be used to finished the project, I don’t think this is appropriate,” he added.

Garcia explained, though, that the funds for continued CCMC construction are COVID-19-related.

“We are in a pandemic and the most important institution in a health crisis is a hospital. I mean that goes without saying it is a hospital... I cannot understand that they say that the hospital is not COVID-related. It is COVID-related,” he said.

“The faster we have to finish it, the better. Because we don’t know what will happen in the future. We have to finish it; it is an immediate construction we have to do,” Garcia added.

Councilors Raul Alcoseba, Alvin Dizon, Leah Japson, and Joy Young voted in favor of the ordinance but with reservations as to the CCMC budget.

SB-3 is the second supplemental budget passed by the council at the time of the pandemic. The first one was SB-2, amounting to P1 billion, which was approved by the council in March.

Half of SB-2 was reportedly used to provide food assistance to COVID-affected residents.  JMD (FREEMAN)

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET

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