Council restores P7.2B budget, but keeps reduced items
AFTER initially reducing next year’s budget to P6.1 billion, the Cebu City Council’s committee on budget and finance decided to restore the amount to the original proposal of P7.2 billion.
But all the items slashed and reduced by the committee on their earlier report last week will stay, Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said.
Pesquera, who chairs the committee, said the additional appropriation was lumped for the payment of the South Road Properties (SRP) loan even if Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña still decides not to pay off the entire loan balance.
“We share our optimism with the city treasurer that they will do their best to improve the city’s collection and reach P7 billion. There’s a need to prioritize the payment of the SRP loan. That’s why the additional appropriation was made for the SRP loan,” she said during yesterday’s council session.
The revised budget proposal was included in the council’s agenda in their session yesterday for approval.
But due to the substantial difference in the amount, the councilors asked that the approval be deferred until next week so they can review the contents.
Majority floor leader Councilor James Anthony Cuenco set a joint caucus by both the minority and majority blocs of the council tomorrow morning for them to discuss the budget together.
Pesquera explained that they initially reduced Mayor Osmeña’s original budget proposal to P6.1 billion after City Treasurer Tessie Camarillo admitted that her office can only collect 80 percent of their target revenue collection for next year.
This prompted the committee to adjust the budget and slash or reduce to P1 some of the proposed items based on priorities.
Pesquera said while they are concerned with the target collections of the city treasurer’s office, they still gave them the “benefit of the doubt” that they can still collect their set targets in order to fund the original P7.2-billion budget proposal.
Among the items reduced by the committee is the proposed rental of 12 dump trucks to help the city’s garbage collection and disposal next year from P102 million to only P50 million.
The committee also reduced the proposed P600 million rehabilitation, remediation and closure of the Inayawan landfill into P85 million.
As for the proposed budget for the antidrug campaign program of P50 million, the amount was reduced to P5 million.
Several items were also slashed by the committee to only P1.
This included the garnishment of the Roque Ting property which was earlier ordered by the Supreme Court (P30 million) and payment for the Iglesia Ni Cristo wall that will be affected by a road widening project (P33 million).
Also reduced were food expenses for the Cebu City jail (P22.6 million), office and communication equipment for the peace and order program (P20 million), supplies and materials for the Inayawan landfill (P10 million) and construction of a fence at the Osmeña Shrine (P15 million).
Pesquera said they still did not restore the original proposals for these items because the committee also has its own priorities it wishes to push.
This includes the prepayment of the entire SRP loan balance though it was not asked by Osmeña.
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