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Cebu News

Council wants to discuss P50 billion budget with Rama

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Members of the City Council want an audience with Mayor Michael Rama to discuss his priorities in the proposed P50-billion annual budget next year.

The Council agreed to sit down with Rama after several councilors urged the executive department to be “realistic” in its budget proposal during the budget hearing last Monday. 

Some councilors asked where to source the funds for the proposed P50-billion annual budget. They also questioned the projected P40 billion in real property taxes (RPT) in 2023 as one of the funding sources.

“Is it wise to have it (RPT) as source of fund, especially the revision, which is already 80 percent of the proposed source of fund for 2023?” asked Councilor Joy Pesquera.

The mayor is banking on the expected increase in real property taxes next year to fund his proposed annual budget. Based on the proposed tax revision ordinance sponsored by Councilor Noel Wenceslao, the city’s real property tax is projected to increase as much as 7,400 percent by next year.               

The proposed revision of tax ordinance, however, is still pending before the city council. Even if the revised tax ordinance gets through the city council, Pesquera said it would still take a long process before the city government could actually collect taxes under the new rates.

“They cannot automatically collect because they have to change all the tax declarations, they have to send new notices of assessment. Without notice of assessment, they cannot collect,” Pesquera explained.

Pesquera said taxpayers could also contest the new tax rates, which means longer process to collect.

 “We can’t be dependent on the approval of this revised tax ordinance,” Councilor Rey Gealon also said.

While the City Council is supportive of the mayor’s vision for a Singapore-like Cebu City, Gealon said it is hard to depend on the foreseen increase in RPT collection when the tax revision ordinance has not been approved yet.

Atty. Jerone Castillo, the mayor’s special assistant on projects and finance matters, assured the council members that the city government can achieve its target tax collection.

“If we have the will to do it, we can do it. We just have to work really harder,” Castillo said.

Councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos, however, said the executive department should be “realistic” in its collection target.

Delos Santos reiterated that the city has not been able to efficiently hit its collection targets which she said is something worth looking into as well. — FPL (FREEMAN)

MICHAEL RAMA

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