Budget cuts

By: Editorial October 24,2017 - 10:14 PM

What to make of the reduced funding for barangay officials and employees in next year’s Cebu City budget?

Of course, opposition officials will complain that the administration is trying to pressure the former’s allied barangay officials to yield and join the latter’s ranks in time for next year’s barangay elections and the 2019 national elections.

With the recent developments in the Cebu City Council, it won’t be long before the Barug Team Rama bloc gains anew the majority numbers, but the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) bloc is already moving towards enacting their “skin and bones” budget for the mayor’s approval before their rivals could muster the numbers to complain and stop it.

But it’s not just about the barangay officials. Also included are the seniors and persons with disabilities (PWDs) who will have reduced budgets of P605.7 million and P91 million next year, respectively.

The official explanation is that the budgets for the barangay officials, the seniors and PWDs will be restored through supplemental budgets to be deliberated on by the council at their own sweet time.

Therein lies the problem at least for the barangay officials and employees who are being held into account for their respective performances. But let’s focus first on the beneficiaries.

The allocations for the seniors and PWD beneficiaries, to be sure, have been bloated to well above the city government’s capacity to meet owing to the previous administration’s promises to increase their aid if only to ensure their reelection.

Yes, it had been made a political issue, and when the previous administration failed to deliver on its promise, it tried to cover up the shortfall by promising to give medicines to the seniors, who spent their cash aid for other things aside from medicine.

The same scenario also applies to the PWDs, and we have yet to know if the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) and the PWD office had completed their list of beneficiaries who are actual occupants in the city and not just those who moved to Cebu City only to avail of the cash aid.

Again, the city government can cover up the shortfall through the supplemental budgets, and we hazard a guess that it will be approved much faster than the supplemental budgets for barangay officials and employees since the incumbent administration also counts on the votes of seniors and PWDs in the next election.

As for the barangay officials? Well, increases in their allowances/stipends will depend largely on their performance — at least on the surface.

As much as they don’t want to admit it, supplemental budgets are a way to pressure barangay officials since it can be done at the ruling majority’s convenience and at the dictates of their benefactor.

Thus, we don’t see the council risking the ire of senior citizens and PWDs by not augmenting their lower budget next year with supplemental budgets.

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