Garbage eating up city fund-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Friday, September 27, 2013
UNLESS the Baguio City Government finds a final solution to the garbage problem, it will face another year with bulk of its billion peso budget spent on solid waste management while scrimping on funds for other basic services.
But how much of the city’s budget is actually spent on garbage? Based on figures discussed by Councilor Peter Fianza in the workshop,
"Demystifying the City Budget for Waste Management" conducted recently by several non-government organizations at the University of the Philippines-Baguio, the City Government is proposing over P162 million for solid waste management next year.
However, in the proposed 2014 budget of the city, there's no specific budget for solid waste management after being aggregated in various allocations for the General Services Office, the department tasked in solid waste management since last year.
To break it down, Fianza explained the budget of GSO rose from zero allocation in 2012, when solid waste management was still delegated to the City Environment and Parks Management Office, to P100 million in 2013 for Environment and Sanitary Services. In the 2014 proposed budget, this allocation remains at P100 million.
Other components of the proposed 2014 budget for solid waste includes P26 million for personnel services; P30 million for gasoline and fuel; P4 million for the Environmental Recycling System’s Clean Development Mechanism; P2.59 million for wages of 18 job order employees – a total of P162.5 million.
But that's not all.
More than P5 million could also be attributed to solid waste: P2.65 million for machineries and equipment; P1.5 million for machineries; P2 million for heavy equipment; P500,000 for agricultural consultancy and testing of Environmental Recycling System products; P400,000 as waste management incentives for barangays; and P400,000 as Information and Education Campaign for solid waste management.
Fianza said while city taxpayers would be happy to see the fuel budget reduced from P38.4 million in 2013 to only P30 million proposed for 2014, there is also the possibility the reduced amount was only transferred to other items in the proposed city budget.
According to the councilor, when the city acquired the Environmental Recycling System machines from Pro Tech Machineries Corporation, it spent more than P141 million in procurement and installation costs alone.
The city also spent from January 1 to August 31 some P16.5 million for hauling trash to the Urdaneta City landfill at P550 per ton bid out to private contractor M.A. Camilo Freight Services and spent P29.3 million for tipping fees at P972 per ton to another private contractor N4th Enterprises.
To point it clearly, the councilor revealed the city actually spends P6.583 million per month or P218,536 per day for hauling and tipping fees, money saved if only spending on the waste solution technology was not rushed and the 10-year Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan of the city was strictly followed.
He said the money spent for clearing the August 27, 2011 trash slide was excluded in the solid waste budget since this was sourced from the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Funds.
In 2011, all of the allocation intended for DRRM was spent on the trash slide while in 2012 some P26 million were also spent for clearing operations while some P3 million were spent in 2013.
The councilor, who was backed by several Writ of Kalikasan petitioners, said ProTech must be held accountable citing. He stressed it is clearly stated in the MOA that ProTech is in charge of hauling residual wastes out of the city, a responsibility the city government shouldered after the former’s failure to do so.
Fianza also admitted there is negligence on the part of the city during the Irisan trash slide killing six people. He explained accumulated trash on the upper part of the dump site was not compacted before the rains came. This resulted in the collapse of part of the retaining wall.
The city government has also spent some P10.257 million for ERS operations in 2012, particularly in fuel and maintenance. Some P3,030 per ton is spent to process biodegradable waste, Fianza revealed.
In 2012, Mayor Mauricio Domogan also approached the City Council for the realignment of some departmental budget to pay waste haulers amounting to P86 million.
According to Fianza, garbage fee collections only amounted to P22M this year, not enough to cover expense on solid waste.
Meanwhile, he also criticized the lack of a stand by the City Solid Waste Management Board headed by the city mayor when the 10-year SWM Plan for 2007 to 2016 was derailed by the purchase of the ERS machines which initially was offered “at no cost to the city”.
“The implementation of the ERS has compromised the 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan,” he stressed.
This as he finally passed the buck to the City Solid Waste Management Board which is looking into a waste to energy technology to "complement" the ERS.
Up until now, the city has to take a legal and firm stand against ProTech Machineries. This is even after its representative faced the City Council April last year assuring its compliance to MOA.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 28, 2013.