Labella insists on using SRP sales as source for 2021 annual budget

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | November 28,2020 - 03:48 PM
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Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. | file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has insisted on using the proceeds of the 2015 sale of South Road Property (SRP) lots as a source of funds for the 2021 annual budget.

The mayor has proposed sourcing P3 billion from the remaining P5 billion funds of the SRP sales for the P10.8 billion proposed annual budget for next year.

This despite the appeal of Vice Mayor Michael Rama and other councilors not to use the SRP funds because they want to save it for an emergency.

Labella said that the funds have been used before, hence there is only a P5 billion balance from the P16 billion total sales, and that there is no legal impediment in doing so.

“I am very confident nga magamit gyod na nato (we can use it). Right now, it is expected that we will collect fewer taxes because of the pandemic. Niubos gyod maayo (It has gone down),” said the mayor.

The SRP funds were intended to be used for necessary emergency expenses that the city may need to fund but don’t have the resources, which is why the mayor is insisting that the SRP sales be used for next year’s budget.

He added that various local government units (LGUs) are already taking up loans for their 2021 budget because the pandemic has gravely affected their tax collection.

Labella said that Cebu City is fortunate to have the SRP funds for the 2021 annual budget despite the suffering the economy had to endure because of the pandemic.

The mayor said that there are essential projects which need to be finished for the development of the city as well as expenses to help those affected by the pandemic.

Labella appealed to the City Council to pass the budget and accept his proposal for the sources of funds, lest the budget approval may be delayed or not approved at all.

As for Councilor Raymond Garcia, the council’s chairperson for the committee on budget and finance, the City Council will try to find other sources of funds such as savings from unrealized projects in the past years.

This is their way to reconcile the wishes of some council members including Rama to save the SRP funds for other emergencies.

Still, if the Council fails to tap other sources of budget, the SRP funds will have to be used, Garcia said.

“The SRP funds were really intended to be used for a rainy day. This pandemic is a rainy day so when is it better to use? We can try to look for other sources but we will use the SRP funds if we have to,” said Garcia in a separate interview.

Due to the requests from the council members, Garcia said the public can expect a little delay in the passing of the 2021 annual budget.

Instead of the next regular session on December 2, 2020, the passing of the budget may be moved to the week after to give time for the local budget finance to reconcile the requests of the council members.

“We will definitely slash the P10.8 billion budget, there is no other way,” added Garcia. /rcg

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TAGS: 2021annual budget, Cebu City, Councilor Raymond Garcia, Labella wants SRP funds used

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