The Oro budget circus (First of two parts)

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Thursday, January 30, 2014


THE City Council of Cagayan de Oro City deferred the approval of the city hall budget for 2014 and referred the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) for 2014 to the city development council (CDC) insisting that the executive department submits the program of work for the AIP.

Meanwhile, the city mayor ordered the re-enactment of the 2013 budget pending approval of the same as public pressured mounts on the council to approve the 2014 Budget without delay.

What is wrong and what can be done? How did the Emano and city council deal with it under the Emano administration? What is the problem at the present time? How should any councilor deal with this budget? What should be done to break the deadlock?

Two things here need to be appreciated. One is the total budget of the city government which is in conflicting figures between of P3.2 billion and P2.6 billion which councilor Bacal pointed out (Sun.Star CDO, Jan 28 2014). Second is the AIP representing 20 per cent of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of the local government.

AIP

The conflict seems to focus on the AIP the delay of which necessarily, delayed the implementation of the development programs under the Moreno administration. The question is who is delaying what? What does the law say? The Department of Budget and Management (not the city council) requires local government units to produce their AIPs based on the expected IRA and which is also prepared for by the CDC.

Pursuant to the Local Government Code, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued guidelines mandating local government units to convene the local development council (LDC) chaired by the mayor himself and constituted by some members of the city council (which include the chairman of the city council committee on appropriation (Elipe) and representatives of the NGOs and civil society groups among others.

It also requires such investment plans to include feasibility studies, detailed cost estimates and the program of work necessary to support the same. The Local government Code requires the mayor to submit the AIP which form part of the annual budget to the city council for concurrence and approval.

Did the law, explicitly provide the city council to require the executive department to provide the city council the program of work, feasibility studies and detailed cost estimates prior to approval of the same? The answer is No. However, it does not also provide that the City Council approve the same without thinking and scrutiny.

The mandate of the city council is to scrutinize the budget proposed by the executive department and be equally liable should these funds be overstated and or used for other purposes otherwise required for by law. Hence, no sane and meticulous city councilor will approve the same without scrutinizing the Programs of Work, Detailed cost estimates and Feasibility studies which they should be able to study in advance before the hearings of the city council are being convened.

My experience as city councilor in 1998 to 2001

During the time of Emano, the city council is provided a proposed legislation 30 minutes before it is being adjourned on millions of projects supposedly taken from the IRA and therefore under the Annual Investment Plan without the necessary documentation (program of works, detailed cost estimates and feasibility Studies) to appraise the same.

I called it "railroaded legislations by a rubber stamp city council." Moreover, for the past 15 years, contracts entered into by Emano were authorized by the city council without even scrutinizing the specifications thereof. As a matter of fact, billions worth of records of these contracts which bind us to pay for debts incurred during Emano are even reported to be unavailable to the present administration.

That is why the City is loaded with loans, debts and is now in dire need of revenues to sustain its basic services, infrastructure and development needs. That is why we suspect Emano and this entire Council of crony capitalism and corruption. Thus the accusations that the failure to appreciate the necessity for the City Council under Emano to act as the officials mandated to safeguard public funds were relinquished and surrendered to one dictator who commands his Council like robots and morons. (To be continued)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 30, 2014.

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