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Cebu City Council slashes Rama’s proposed P100B budget to P25B

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | January 25,2024 - 09:02 AM


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JULY 16, 2023: A glimpse at the facade of the Cebu City Hall. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s proposed P100 billion budget for 2024 was reduced to P25 billion by the City Council, which overrode the mayor’s veto.

Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, vice chairperson of the council’s Committee on Budget and Finance, confirmed the decision on Wednesday, Jan. 24, emphasizing that all provisions in the appropriation ordinance were upheld.

“The council override the veto. Do all provisions in the appropriation ordinance are carried,” Pesquera said in a text message to CDN Digital.

Initially, on Dec. 20, 2023, the City Council approved P19,998,463,532.30 for general funds and P2,095,399,689.40 for special accounts. However, amendments on Dec. 27 increased the general funds to P23,779,096,005.80 and special accounts to P2,054,081,739.40, totaling P25,833,177,745.20.

Rama had proposed a P100 billion budget initially, but the Council’s deliberations led to the reduced amount.

Decision under review

The decision to override the mayor’s veto is under review by the city budget officer, Lawyer Jerone Castillo.

Councilor Noel Wenceslao, chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance, confirmed the override, stating that the vetoed items, particularly in Capital Outlay, were necessary for budget balancing. However, he emphasized that the override did not imply rejection of the mayor’s proposed budget, as a supplemental budget could be considered later.

Castillo welcomed the idea of a supplemental budget but emphasized the need to follow legal procedures. The council’s decision to override the mayor’s veto will be scrutinized for any objectionable matters.

“At the end of the day, when we did our review, it is always for the best interest of the city, kay kaning budget para mani sa mga Sugboanon,” Castillo said.

According to the Department of Budget and Management, supplemental budget refers to the “financial plan authorized by a legislative body through the enactment of an ordinance or law that authorizes the changes in the annual appropriation ordinance of law.”

In response, Mayor Rama, while not expressing immediate reaction, instructed Lawyers Castillo and Collin Rosell to review the override process. When asked about the mayor’s take on the council’s decision, Castillo said, in a separate interview, that Rama told him it was “a matter of principle.”

Wenceslao, for his part, highlighted the importance of balancing appropriations with the city’s revenue for 2024, suggesting the possibility of a supplemental budget for additional funding.

Need for balanced budget

Rama vetoed some sections in the Capital Outlay. With his veto, the expenditures would increase and would sum up to at least P8 billion to which the council could not approve.

Wenceslao said if they approve that P8 billion, the total would become P34 billion. That’s why they temporarily overrode it, but it doesn’t mean they won’t approve it later. The executive can create a supplemental budget for this.

Wenceslao clarified that overriding the mayor’s veto doesn’t indicate a rejection of his proposed annual budget. He emphasized the need for a balanced budget to avoid problems.

Meanwhile, Castillo recognized the democratic process at play, with both the executive and legislative branches having their positions.

He clarified that the mayor’s veto was selective, targeting specific items rather than the entire ordinance. The city is set to operate based on the non-overridden items.

Castillo stated if there are items not in line with the law, they must object because it’s their responsibility.

Meanwhile, Wenceslao emphasized that the council’s approved appropriations should align with the city’s 2024 revenue. He added if there are surpluses or additional income, the executive can create a supplemental budget for future needs.

“Tan-awon namo kung naa naba gyud tay additional funding for this then we can approve that because para nako kung kinahanglan gyud sa executive, then we have to support also,” he added.

Reasons for the decision

On another note, Castillo believes the council has reasons for their decision, just as the mayor has his position. He emphasized that this is how democracy functions.

“Kung unsa ang position sa executive, unsa ang counterbalance in act sa legislative, this is how the process works and the process flows,” Castillo said. He clarified that Mayor Rama did not veto the entire ordinance; it was a selective veto, meaning only some items were overridden by the council while others were approved.

The city will operate based on the non-overridden items. Castillo mentioned that the mayor’s acceptance applies to these items, except for those he objected to. Additionally, there’s no need to reenact the approved 2023 annual budget.

Crucial for people of Cebu

In his letter to the council on Jan. 11, Rama identified “line items” in the proposed budget that he vetoed, citing post-enactment measures beyond the council’s oversight. He stressed the administration’s success as crucial for the people of Cebu and pledged to ensure the timely and transparent implementation of the 2024 Annual Budget.

Regarding the items he chose to veto, Rama stated that those sections “impose special conditions on the funding and release of funds, which are post-enactment measures beyond the oversight of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.”

Rama emphasized that the success of his administration directly impacts the people of Cebu City. He urged continued efforts in implementing reforms for efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability, aiming to enhance actions and decisions for the benefit of the residents.

In his role as the local chief executive of Cebu City, Rama personally committed to ensuring the timely and transparent implementation of Ordinance No. 2730, which encompasses the 2024 Annual Budget. /clorenciana


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TAGS: 2024 budget, Cebu City, Cebu City Council, Mayor Rama

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