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Cebu News

Rama asks department heads to help boost revenues

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has encouraged the heads of departments and offices at the City Hall to undertake programs to boost the city’s revenues to fund their budget proposals for the implementation of projects that will benefit the people.

During the “budget forum” on Friday which was attended by the heads of City Hall offices, Rama, who communicated through the Zoom platform, also requested them to make a commitment to implement a “sound fiscal management” in their respective offices.

In a report of the city’s Public Information Office (PIO), City Accountant Jerome Ornopia stated during the said forum that the city’s collections have been on a downward trend over the past three years.

In 2019, the city’s gross collection was around P7.7 billion. This decreased to P7.3 billion in 2020, and P6.6 billion in 2021.

Ornopia said among the reasons for the downtrend is the decline in the business taxes collected by the city government.

This as several businesses in the city were shut down due to the negative impacts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Treasurer Mare Vae Reyes, for her part, said they will propose to raise the city's fees and charges for services.

Reyes requested the other department heads to submit their own proposals for her office to compile them.

The budget forum was part of the city’s preparations for its budgeting process.

Following the forum, each department and office will draft and submit their respective budget proposals.

Then, there will be a mock budget hearing with the Local Finance Committee, preparation of the Local Expenditure Program, and issuance of a Budget Message from the mayor.

The proposed executive budget for 2023 will have to be submitted to the City Council not later than October 16.

Meanwhile, Rama also disclosed during the budget forum his target of a “substantially reduced human force” for all city government departments and offices within six months.

He emphasized the need for each department to become a "little City Hall" in order to perform and contribute to the realization of his administration’s goal of a Singapore-like Cebu City.

“After six months, we will have substantially reduced human resources. There will be a no-nonsense rightsizing program,” said Rama.

Rama said he tasked Atty. Josephus Jimenez, a labor law expert, to work with the Human Resource and Development Office (HRDO) on the matter.

Rama confessed that he cannot accomplish his goal for a Singapore-like city on his own and he needs everyone’s cooperation to do so.

“I cannot do this alone, I need everyone’s cooperation on this,” he said during the virtual oath taking for the heads of several special bodies created by the city government.

He asked for the assistance of the members of various special bodies of the city government to realize his vision.

The mayor stated that he wants to work closely with them to ensure that projects and initiatives are carried out in accordance with his administration's priorities which include an “inclusive, people-centered, digitally transformed, and resilient" government.

“I am happy that we are here because I know that we are centered on service, as we must focus on the thrust sa atong administration,” Rama said.

“This is not my administration, but our administration, we have to put that in mind because we are in this together,” he added.

The three-meter easement for the city's rivers and other waterways is one of the initiatives he wants to take seriously.

“I am very serious about this plan because our rivers are very ugly. If we have to break structures, we’ll definitely break them,” Rama said.

There are already at least 2,000 structures occupied by 14,000 people around the city's rivers and waterways.

In relation to the Carbon Public Market renovation project, he stated that he wants the market to expand up to the Compania Maritima area so that tourists and visitors would have more options.

“The road that we are going through is not an easy path. With your help and with your collaborative effort, I’m sure that the things that can be accomplished in nine years, can be done in three,” the mayor said.

“So, I look forward to the days to come because together we can make greater things happen,” he added. —Shaina Fame Marie P. Mabatid, UV Intern/GMR (FREEMAN)

MICHAEL RAMA

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