Dizon to Labella: Prioritize COVID-19 response in 2021 budget

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | December 05,2020 - 12:14 PM
scientific basis

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon | CDN Digital File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines –A Cebu City Councilor wanted allocations for pandemic response prioritized in the 2021 budget.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said that the city’s readiness against the spread of the coronavirus disease is far more important than implementing infrastructure projects at a time when the needed anti-COVID vaccine is still unavailable in the country.

“The Executive Department should reassess and review the expenditure programs because naay nakita ang mga pipila ka konsehal nga (some Councilors saw) unnecessary items at this time [that were included in the 2021 budget],” Dizon said.

The P10.8 billion budget that Mayor Edgardo Labella is proposing for 2021 remains pending with the City Council.  The 2021 budget has to be passed before the year ends, otherwise, Cebu City will be forced to re-enact its 2020 budget next year.

Dizon, for his part, has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of budget hearings that the City Council has had in the last two weeks. He said that it is now becoming very obvious that pandemic response is not a priority of the executive department in its 2021 budget.

In a resolution which he earlier authored and which the Council passed, Dizon asked Labella to prioritize the city’s response to the coronavirus disease pandemic in next year’s allocation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently warned nations that the pandemic can stretch up to 2022 depending on how fast the anti-COVID vaccines can be distributed to provide immunity against the infection.

With the COVID-19 threat, Dizon said that next year’s allocation should be focused on what is essential to the Cebuanos like health care and economic recovery.

He also questioned Labella’s 2021 travel allocation amounting to P2.5 million which, he said, is unnecessary during this time of a pandemic.

Dizon has also sought the implementation of cuts on the city’s allocation for snacks that will be served in city-organized meetings and events.  He said that since most of the meetings are now done online, the need to serve snacks was no longer necessary.

Since we are still in a pandemic, Dizon said that the implementation of some infrastructure projects will have to be delayed to especially fund the priorities of the city government.

“It is my fervent hope that the executive department will cut costs in certain portions of the budget and realign this for the essential pandemic response,” he said.

Labella has earlier defended his travel allocation saying that this does not necessarily have to be spent.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama has also given the assurance that the Council will pass the city’s 2021 budget before the year ends.

Councilor Raymond Garcia, the chairperson of the Council’s committee on budget and finance, said that cuts may be introduced on the P10.8 billion budget because of the need to reduce the city’s expenses next year. / dcb

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TAGS: 2021 budget, Alvin Dizon, covid-19 response, Edgardo Labella

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