Council approves 2014 Oro budget, slashes P300M

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


AFTER a series of heated deliberation of the controversial 2014 Executive Budget, the Cagayan de Oro City Council finally approved it, but slashed the fund down by P300 million.

Mayor Oscar Moreno proposed a P2.6-billion Executive Budget for 2014, but the City Council cut it down to P2.3 billion.

The voting happened twice. Councilor Roger Abaday requested further deliberation after the majority approved it the first time during the 28th regular session Monday.

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The 17th City Council proposed ordinance No. 2014-15 was approved.

The ordinance appropriated an amount of P2.06 billion under the general fund. The budget also includes P74,590,527 for the city economic enterprises, P18,379,898 for the east and westbound terminals and public market and P143,914,634 for the J.R. Borja General Hospital to finance its estimated various expenditures.

City administrator Roy Raagas said the budget was unintelligently approved and railroaded.

Raagas added that even the local finance committee was not around, or was not able to check the budget. However, he assured the budget will be reviewed and may be vetoed by Moreno.

'Elipe’s budget'

City Councilor Roger Abaday mocked the approved budget and tagged it as "Elipe’s Budget."

He said it would be impossible to determine how much will be spent on the special projects because those were “lump summed.”

Abaday added that the City Council should approve the budget of the Moreno administration because it already has programs of work.

“Can we be sure that the additional PhilHealth members will be covered?” asked Abaday.

City Councilor Zalde Ocon said: “This is a joke!”

“Are we going to approve this even if we have not discusses this properly?” asked Ocon, adding that the budget was approved without “trial and consultation.”

Slashed

Raagas said the City can generate as much as P2.6 billion for the additional programs that are included in the budget.

He added that with the approved budget, the P240 million for additional PhilHealth members was reduced.

“They (majority bloc) in the City Council do not support the administration’s steps to increase the number of PhilHealth members and renew the old members,” said Raagas.

Raagas added that portions of proposed budget were “slashed” by the City Council because they do not want to add scholars and help the people via the social welfare programs.

He said the discretionary funds were also reduced by the City Council.

City Councilor President Elipe confirmed that the P20-million budget for intelligence funds was reduced to P5 million, and another P20 million for the confidential funds was reduced also to P5 million.

Elipe said the City Council can do that because the local code states that the budget for the discretionary funds must not exceed two per cent of the real property tax in the preceding year.

Councilor Candy Darimbang argued that the budget for discretionary funds is not in accordance with the Local Government Code.

To justify the low discretionary funds, Elipe said the local code states that the budget should not exceed but it did not say that it should be 2 per cent.

Raagas said that in the previous administration, the discretionary funds would reach more than P50 million.

Councilor Dante Pajo said the approved PhilHealth budget will only cover 25,000 members.

Pajo justified the reduction of Philhealth budget, citing that the senior citizens, 4Ps members, the government and private employees are automatically covered with PhilHealth insurance.

Pajo added that the proposed 50,000 additional Philhealth members and the renewal of the 50,000 members is too much.

But Raagas argued that it is not the City Council who knows well the data regarding PhilHealth membership.

He said the population in the city is nearly 800,000.

“The proposed additional members of PhilHealth were suggested by the city’s local PhilHealth office and they know well who needs it,” said Raagas.

Supplemental budget

If the approved budget is not enough to give services, the City Council can always approve supplemental budgets for special projects, Elipe added.

“Nothing could stop the City Council to do it even next month,” Elipe said referring to the supplemental budgets.

Elipe added that the majority opted for the lump sum because the executive has been relentless for the budget’s approval.

Abaday questioned Elipe’s statements: “Gi lump sum nalang to please the executive?”

Raagas believed that the huge decrease on the approved budget was influenced by politics.

He said they (majority bloc) do not want the present administration to perform well and exceed the performance of the previous administration.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 04, 2014.

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