Food is Cebu City’s biggest expense in COVID-19 response

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital | March 10,2021 - 04:04 PM

In this October 2020 photo, the Cebu City Government distributes assistance to vendors affected by the closure of cemeteries during Undas season.

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Food was the largest expense of Cebu City during the peak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in 2020.

Councilor Raymond Garcia, the City Council’s chairperson on the committee on budget and finance, revealed this when he showed the breakdown of the COVID-19 expenses on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

In the breakdown presented to the media, Garcia said that most of the P2.5 billion expenses was used on food such as canned goods, sacks of rice, pack lunch for workers, and other food aid.

The food expenses reached P1.1 billion from April to December 2020, which encompasses food aid to residents, food packs to workers, and food subsidy to patients in the isolation center.

Medical supplies such as test kits, equipment, beds, laboratory expenses, and personal protective equipment, reached a total of P431 million.

Hazard pay for the government workers, including the financial assistance given to private hospital medical workers, reached  P392.6 million.

Garcia said that the reason for the massive expense in food is because the city government had to spend for the food aid to the residents who could not go out during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). This lasted for almost four months.

Afterwards, the city still provided aid to all barangays and sitios that were placed under granular lockdown. Food packs were given to isolated patients and certain sectors such as the street vendors and jeepney drivers.

“Ang receipts ani giforward na nato sa COA (Commission on Audit) so as it is the duty of COA to do post-audit,” said Garcia.

(The receipts of these were forwarded to the COA so it is the duty of the COA to do post-audit.)

Still, Garcia noted that the city saved at least P200 million for the COVID-19 expenses as their original budget was P2.7 billion from various sources such as the supplemental budgets and the trust funds.

The savings were brought by careful prioritization on the expenses during the pandemic, which the City Council agreed upon through various resolutions to the local finance committee and Mayor Edgardo Labella.

The unused P200 million will be reverted back to the general funds and can now be used for other expenses deemed necessary by the city government whether for COVID-19 response or others.

Garcia hopes that the revelation of the budget breakdown puts to rest issues that claim that the city government could not provide a breakdown of the more than P2 billion COVID-19 budget.

He assured the public that the funds were maximized for pandemic response.

/bmjo

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TAGS: Cebu city government, Councilor Raymond Garcia, COVID-19, COVID-19 expense, covid-19 response

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