Thorough review causes delay in approval of Cebu City’s 2021 budget
CEBU CITY, Philippines — A thorough budget review is causing the delay of the approval of the 2021 annual budget in Cebu City as the City Council members to scrutinize the P10.8 billion budget proposed by Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, the chairperson of the committee on budget and finance, said the council expects to pass the budget before the last regular session of the year on December 16, 2020.
The budget was only delayed because the council members wish to scrutinize the allocations for the projects and expenses of each department, division, and office.
Councilor Nestor Archival said the city executive should not expect the council to approve the annual budget when they have not liquidated the P3 billion budget spent for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Archival said that for transparency purposes, the public must be appraised of how the P3 billion budget was spent before another P10.8 billion budget will be passed.
“There should be proper documentation of all the expenses of the P3 billion. Sayon raman unta kaayo na iproduce ang purchase orders and liquidation but the executive department seemingly have a problem,” said Archival in his privilege speech in the regular session.
The minority floor leader also asked the mayor to review the budget allocations of certain departments so that the city can save more money on projects, which can be realigned for pandemic response.
‘Political in nature’
He also warned that taking P3 billion funds from the proceeds of the 2015 sales of the South Road Properties (SRP), which has little over P5 billion left.
Archival said that if the city uses the funds, there will be nothing left for any future emergency and the city can go bankrupt.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said that this attempt to over-scrutinize the budget is political in nature.
He said the city has available funds for a pandemic response in 2021, but the opposition councilors are trying to stop the budget.
“We are fortunate that our local government unit (LGU) does not need to take loans for the 2021 annual budget. This is a state of public health emergency and we need that budget,” said the mayor in a phone interview on Sunday, December 6, 2020.
The mayor added that the budget allocation was properly consulted with experts, especially the budget for health, which is almost doubled compared to the 2020 budget.
Labella said he based the budget on health from the recommendations of the City Health Department and other health experts.
The mayor appealed to the council to pass the budget so that the necessary allocations will be provided for, or else the 2020 budget will be reinstated, leaving the pandemic-related expenses unfunded.
Councilor Garcia, meanwhile, said that this move was expected from the City Council since it is their obligation to scrutinize the budget thoroughly. He said he is confident that the budget will be passed on time.
He also said the council will exhaust the remaining time they have for the budget hearing and the regular session, and even special sessions, to pass the budget.
“Give us until the last regular session, that week, we will be able to pass this budget on time,” said Garcia.
Subscribe to our regional newsletter
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.