CEBU CITY EYES ‘BIGGEST’ BONUS
Despite the budget war in the Cebu City Council, legislators may still agree to give a Christmas bonus to city employees and officials at P30,000 each.
If it’s approved, the cash incentive would be the biggest yearend bonus in the city’s record.
The incentive is proposed in Supplemental Budget No. 2 for a total of P206 million submitted yesterday by Mayor Michael Rama before he left for a climate change forum in Paris.
The City Council set a special session on Monday, December 7, to take this up.
Cebu City has 4,800 regular and casual employees.
City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said the proposed incentive would be enjoyed by officials, including councilors, as well.
She said she was confident it would be passed and the bonus released before their Christmas Party on December 18.
The rationale given was that city government employees and officials should be recognized for Cebu City’s award as the third most competitive highly urbanized city in the Philippines in the 3rd
Regional Competitiveness Summit last July 16 wherein Cebu City also ranked second in infrastructure competitiveness.
Mayor Rama approved the December 1 recommendation of the Program on Awards and Incentives of Service Excellence (PRAISE) committee.
“By virtue of the said awards, it is deemed rightful to grant the employees a cash incentive for all the hard work and effort that led the City of Cebu to receive the awards,” said the Praise resolution.
City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas certified that “savings” were available for this.
The amount of SB2 is much smaller than the P2.8 billion Supplemental Budget No. 1 which the City Council rejected for the sixth time last week amid politically charged issues of spending the proceeds from lot sales of the South Road Properties (SRP), the subject of a court case.
Perhaps the bigger reason for the bonus is that city employees have little or no chance to receive the 2015 Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) of one month salary or P5,000 which is stuck in the City Council’s budget impasse over Supplemental Budget No. 1.
Cuevas, a member of the Praise committee, said the amount proposed at P30,000 across the board was bigger because city employees would no longer be receiving the PEI, a one-time bonus authorized nationwide by President Aquino for 2015.
Councilor Margot Osmeña, budget committee head, said SB2 has a better chance of being passed since it did not involve the SRP lot sales that is the subject of a court case.
“For as long as we can verify (the source of funds) and for as long as there is actual cash, why not? Of course we want to give employees their bonuses as long as it’s documented correctly and there is nothing that is dubious,” she told Cebu Daily News.
“SB2 shows that even if we do not use SRP proceeds, there are still sources of funds. If you really look, you will find it,” said Osmeña.
She said she still has to examine her copy of the budget.
But this early, she expressed confidence that SB2 would be approved “faster” because it was “easier” to understand.
City councilors will gather on Monday for a special session to act on the SB2 before they all head for Tagaytay City to attend the convention of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL).
Cuevas said P30,000 cash was like a Christmas bonus and the biggest ever given to city officials and employees.
Last year, Cebu City gave a P10,000 yearend bonus to employees.
In 2013, the amount in December was P20,000 as calamity assistance after Supertyphoon Yolanda and the Cebu-Bohol earthquake.
But the calamity aid release was later disallowed by the Commission on Audit for violating guidelines on the use of disaster funds.
It is now the subject of an administrative complaint for misconduct filed against Mayor Rama and several councilors. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is hearing the case filed by lawyer Remeylio Delute who questioned whether the mayor and officials qualified as calamity victims.
A breakdown of the proposed P206-million Supplemental Budget No. 2 shows that the bulk is set aside for cash incentives at P151.4 million.
A P55 million outlay is also there for garbage collection and disposal.
Other appropriations in SB2 include a subsidy to special accounts – P5.9 million; Local Risk Reduction Management Fund – P5.8 million; balance of interest for the city’s 2015 SRP loan repayment – P3 million; and payment for SRP documentary stamps – P1.5 million.
The source of funds was identified from additional realized business taxes – P104. 4 million; realignments – P82.2 million; savings from special accounts – P25.6 million; and incremental collection of Value Added Taxes for year 2000 to 2008 – P12.2 million.
While councilors discuss SB2 on Monday, SB1 will remain shelved.
Under Praise committee guidelines, an employee will receive P30,000 or a pro-rated amount for those hired on or after October 15 depending on length of service.
The smaller amount ranges from P3,000 or 10 percent to P12,000 or 40 percent for those working for less than a month to four months.
“The current administration is keen on providing incentives for its employees who contributed in the agency’s achievement and to motivate employee efforts toward higher productivity, performance and greater accountability in the public sector,” said the PRAISE resolution.
The PRAISE committee is headed by chairman Jose Maria Eugenio Elizaldo and vice chairperson Mercado.
Members are Mary Ann Suson, Marietta Gumia, Kenneth Carmelita Enriquez and Diwa Cuevas. The resolution was also approved by Mayor Rama.
BO-PK Councilors Osmeña and Sisinio Andales were not present during the December 1 meeting and were unable to sign the PRAISE resolution.
Can the City Council act on the second supplemental budget, while sitting on SB1?
“Yes, it’s OK,” said Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
“SB1 is just deferred and hasn’t been acted upon. I think there can still be SB2,” he told reporters.
Labella said he remains hopeful that the Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) bloc would come around and approve SB1 which includes a P2.3 billion allocation for the city’s SRP loan repayment, before the year ends.
“This (SB2) has a different (fund) source. Our sources are our savings for the whole year. It’s towards the ends of the year, so we can already assess what appropriations can’t be implemented and where we can save. This has nothing to do with SB1, the SB2 is entirely different,” said city administrator Lucelle Mercado.
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