GSO grilled on expenditures

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


COUNCILOR Peter Fianza started the grilling of the General Services Office (GSO), particularly on solid waste management expenses of the local government, during the Baguio City Council regular session Monday.

In a detailed listing presented to members of the Council, Fianza sought answers from GSO chief Romeo Concio on why the City Government has been derailing its 10-year Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan with the local government’s implementation of an Integrated Solid Waste Disposal System (ISDS).

The councilor said the local government has been spending so much on solid waste management. In the proposed 2014 budget, the department is requesting for the approval of more than P269 million budget with some P190 million for maintenance and other operation expenses with the bulk going to solid waste management.

Fianza said the City Government spends at least P193,376.55 per day for hauling and tipping fees or some P580,126.65 per month or more than P69 million per year for tipping and hauling expenses.

This as he said the city has yet to earn from the two Environmental Recycling System machines which were acquired primarily to process biodegradable wastes.

The ERS machines were bought from "waste solution provider" ProTech for P128 million in 2011, P141 million if including installation costs.

ProTech in its agreement with the city was supposed to buy back fertilizers processed by the machines.

But all for naught said the councilor.

Fianza pointed out the city spent more than P12 million for diesel and electricity per year since it acquired the machines.

The councilor also sought answers on several resolutions of the council requiring the ProTech to fulfill its obligations based on the memorandum of agreement it entered with the City Government particularly on proper disposal of residual wastes for 10 years, carbon credit registration and buy-back of the fertilizers.

But the General Services Officer Romeo Concio said the waste solution provider has not communicated with the local government for several months further baffling Councilor Edison Bilog later on asking the City Government on why it has not pushed for the filing of a case against the company which according to several councilors apparently failed to fulfill its obligations.

With this mounting expenses on solid waste management, Fianza questioned why the city government is now again moving in its Annual Investment Plan proposing for the acquisition of land of around P25 million for the site acquisition of an engineered sanitary landfill, P53.8 million for initial site development, 10 million for the construction of two material recovery facilities and some P8.8 million additional funds for the post closure program of the Irisan dumpsite.

With the proposed solid waste disposal system the councilor said it is obvious the city has derailed from its solid waste management plan.
“Now it seems that there is a change, it seems that we can change the plan outright anytime we want, so what do we really want?” Fianza asked.

Concio defended the Integrated Solid Waste Disposal System saying once the needed investments on solid wastes are procured and completed these will solve the problems of the city on garbage by the end of the year.

But Concio said the initial site development and acquisition of an ESL costing some P25 million and P53.8 million does not mean the city will already have its own ESL facility yet as additional equipment and facility may be needed.

The GSO admitted the city earned nothing from the buy-back agreement with ProTech with the fertilizers only stockpiled at the Irisan facility and has so far been distributed only to the barangays for use in re-greening programs.

Meantime, Concio stressed the city government is eyeing a 22 hectare property to house the city’s Integrated Solid Waste Disposal System in a nearby Benguet town which according to him has on process its barangay and municipal approval.

Councilor Faustino Olowan, meantime, stressed the owner of the property, including the city, must also consider social acceptability and conduct public consultation of residents living near the proposed site as well as seek permission from the Benguet board.

Without any resolution on the budget of the GSO, the City Council decided to schedule an executive meeting to further discuss concerns on the department’s budget.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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