Rama’s budget veto stays

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |January 15,2015 - 08:05 AM
DAY OUT. As the opposition dominated City Council decides not to override his line vetoes to the 2015 budget, Mayor Michael Rama takes time to welcome Cebuanos going home for the Sinulog. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)

DAY OUT. As the opposition dominated City Council decides not to override his line vetoes to the 2015 budget, Mayor Michael Rama takes time to welcome Cebuanos going home for the Sinulog. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s veto of several parts of the P13.4 billion budget for this year went unchallenged.

The Cebu City Council yesterday agreed not to override his veto.

Councilor Margot Osmeña said they  would just wait for the  Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to declare  whether the budget is operable.

“We’ll see what the DBM says. For now, let the mayor implement the budget the way he wants it to be implemented,”  she said.

Rama approved all  outlays   in the budget ordinance but vetoed  special provisions inserted by the council, such as a condition that a P4.5 billion outlay can only be sourced from the disposal of lots in the South Road Properties (SRP).

Rama said this restriction was encroaching on his power as a mayor to implement the budget.

The council, dominated by the local opposition Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan weighed the substance of Rama’s  veto.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said the decision “means the mayor’s veto in the specific provisions will take effect. But it won’t affect the implementation of the budget ordinance.”

In yesterday’s session, where members debated on  whether to override the veto with a two-thirds vote,  Councilor Osmeña called for the suspension of rules to allow department heads to explain the mayor’s rejection.

“It’s not a legal question to start off, but it’s a financial question,” said Osmeña.

This prompted Labella to temporarily step down from his post as presiding officer, take the floor and explain the mayor’s veto.

The lawyer said placing restrictions and a colatilla on the budget ordinance violates the Constitution and the Local Government Code.

He cited section 320 of the LGC  which states that the responsibility for the execution of the annual and supplemental budgets and their  accountability rests with the mayor as  local chief executive.

But Osmeña insisted that    the executive branch  explain the veto since it was their first time to experience portions of a budget ordinance rejected and not the  actual  outlays.

“We should be enlightened and we want to ask questions. We may not even override it,” she added.

The council debated over whether to call a vote.

After a recess, they  agreed not to touch the veto and let the DBM declare whether the city budget is operative or not. She said she will submit her observations to DBM.

For example, for the sources of funds, Rama pointed out that the council went “beyond its mandate by not following the sources of funds certified by the local finance committee which has the authority to do so.”

But Osmeña pointed out that during the buddget hearings, it was the finance committee which asked the city council to remove some of the identified sources of funds.

“Like the P1 billion from selling the lot at the North Reclamation Area since the city will have a joint venture project with SM. Also the sale of the Inayawan landfill which won’t be sold anymore,” she said.

For the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots, Osmeña pointed out that based on the terms of reference in the approved resolution to sell the lots last year, the buyers will only pay 50 percent of the amount upon  purchase  and pay the balance in the next three years.

This was why they only approved P4.5 billion of the P9 billion expected revenue from the sale of the SRP lots identified by the executive, she said.

She said the Council made it a condition that the P4.5 billion  capital outlay can only be sourced from the disposal of  SRP lots since “we have confidence in  the mayor since he’s authorized already to sell the lots.”

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