Cebu City Council OKs P51.4B 2023 annual budget
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama now has a new working budget for 2023. This was after the Cebu City Council, on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 28, 2022, approved, with three objections and one abstention, the ordinance for the proposed P51,457,715,685.30 2023 Annual Budget.
During its regular session, the council deliberated Councilor Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao’s proposed ordinance authorizing the amount of P49,703,047,474.00 for the general fund proper and P1,754,668,211.30 for the special accounts to cover various expenditures for the operations of different offices or units of the city government from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2023.
A total of 10 councilors, from the majority, voted for the approval of the budget, while opposition councilors Mary Ann de los Santos, Nestor Archival Sr., and Jose Abellanosa objected to the passage of the ordinance.
Councilor Franklyn Ong abstained during the voting.
Majority floor leader Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera presented the amendments before the council during the deliberation.
She reported that the council deducted P2 billion appropriation from other expenses, covering the honorarium of commissions and overtime pay of personnel to increase the budget allocated for the medium-rise buildings (MRBs)
From the original budget of P24 billion, the MRB project of Rama’s administration now has a budget P26 billion.
Pesquera assured that even with the amendments, there was no change in the total amount of the budget. The substantial decrease from the allocation for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses was transferred to the capital outlay.
“To balance out, we put everything, the balancing figure under the MRBs,” she said.
Another budget amendment introduced on Wednesday was the restoration of the P1.3 million budget for the solar irrigation under the Office of the City Agriculturists. The amount will be deducted from the motor vehicle project under the Legislative Office.
Sources of Funds
Among the sources of funds for the General Fund Proper include the tax revenue (P44,536,128,566.00); non-tax revenue (P2,126,047,474.00); National Tax Allotment (P2,740,871,434.00), and share from Ecozone of P300,000,000.
For the special accounts (which is inclusive of subsidy from the General Fund Proper in the amount of P1,457,715,685.30), the identified sources would be from the City Hospital’s non-tax revenue at P180,000,000; City Hospital’s subsidy from the General Fund Proper (P773,462,470.50); Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP)’s non-tax revenue (P8,500,000) and its subsidy from General Fund Proper (P136,078,928); from the City markets’ non-tax revenue (P108,452,526), and from the Local Development Fund (LDF) Subsidy from the General Fund Proper (P548,174,286.80).
Summary of Appropriations
Majority of the object of expenditure for the General Fund Proper went to capital outlay at P36,844,403,430.59, followed by the appropriation for the MOOE at P10,666,258,777.41, and for personnel services at P2,192,385,266.
As to the appropriations for the special accounts, the biggest chunk went to Capital Outlay at P658,568,649.04, followed by the budget for personnel services at P604,909,645, and the MOOE at P491,189,917.26.
Cebu City Council budget deliberation
The deliberation process of the new annual budget, however, did not end without a heated debate among the councilors.
Citing the “substantial amendments” earlier introduced by Pesquera, Councilor De Los Santos wanted that the proposed ordinance enacting the budget to be referred back to the Committee on Laws, Ordinances, and Styling.
However, Pesquera maintained that based on experience with other administrations, it is normal that when the council deliberates and approves the annual budget, the council can also come up with its own version in terms of allocation of funds.
“The power of the council as provided in the local government code has the power to decrease or increase the appropriations…Inclined gihapon sa local government code, but cannot go beyond the source of funds that’s been indicated,” Pesquera maintained.
Minority-floor leader Archival, for his part, questioned why the council was deliberating already the budget when the first ordinance that should be approved was the ordinance on the revision of the real property taxes of the city, which, he said, was one of the main sources of funds.
Wenceslao, however, argued that it was not true that the city was dependent on the revision of the taxes to raise the funds for next year, and that the tax revision was not the sole revenue source of the city.
He said that the city could get its target budget if it would improve its collection.
But, it did not sit well with De Los Santos, citing that in the recent years, the city government failed to achieve its annual target revenue collection.
“You make projections based on the prior years but based on the prior years di man (it was not achieved)…Are we looking like a clown or stupid here? Let us be truthful to ourselves. Nganong paasahon ang tawo (Why would we let the public hope) on a budget that is not realistic,” she said.
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