Council approves leaner SB 3, calamity assistance

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Friday, December 20, 2013


THE Cebu City Council, except for Councilor Margarita Osmeña, approved P133.7 million of the P140.3 million third supplemental budget (SB 3) proposed by the executive department.

SB 3 includes the P20,000 bonus of each of the 4,200 Cebu City Hall employees.

The bonus is called calamity financial assistance, a label that does not sit well with Osmeña, who pointed out that she did not fall victim to super typhoon Yolanda.

Yolanda devastated many areas in northern Cebu but hardly touched Cebu City.

Osmeña said she and Councilor Lea Japson will not accept their calamity aid.

“Lain kaayo, wala baya ko na-calamity (I don't think it’s right for me to accept aid as I was not affected by the calamity),” said Japson.

Allocation for the calamity aid reached P61 million.

But apart from that, Osmeña abstained from approving SB 3 because she did not agree with the fund sources identified by the executive department.

“Those were not new revenues. The sources are not realized revenues and were not collected,” said Osmeña.

SB 3 also includes P10 million for garbage tipping fees. The executive branch proposed P17 million in tipping fees to a private landfill in Consolacion where Cebu City’s garbage is dumped, but the council slashed the proposal to P10 million.

Forex

Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. moved that the Department of Public Services (DPS) be required to liquidate previous tipping fee allocations before additional funding is released.

Osmeña questioned the item “gain/loss on foreign exchange,” which the local finance committee used as source of fund. An appropriation of about P45.9 million was taken from this item to fund the P133-million SB 3 under the general fund.

Budget Officer Nelfa Briones said the City appropriated P119 million under this item as buffer fund in case there is a depreciation in the peso.

This was instituted by the City because it pays bi-annual amortization for the South Road Properties (SRP) loan in dollars.

“How can you say that we have an actual gain? This was not used as a source of fund before. This is a backup, contingency or arbitrary account. But it's really just an accounting entry,” said Osmeña.

Certificate

City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said she can immediately issue the certificate of availability of fund (CAF) for the SB 3.

Osmeña said she does not doubt that Cuevas can sign the CAF but there are other payables lined up.

“If there are payables, there are also receivables,” said Cuevas.

The sources of fund for the SB 3 are realigned maintaining and other operating expenses of P110 million and P30 million in savings from personal services.

After the approval of the SB 3, the challenge of the executive is to release the bonuses to the employees on or before Christmas Day, which is a provision under the budget ordinance.

In a separate ordinance, the City Council approved the allocation of P26 million as calamity financial assistance for the employees of the departments under the special accounts like Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), Cebu City Medical Center and markets, among others.

Councilor Dave Tumulak also sponsored a resolution to give ham and rice to City Hall employees and basket of goods to job-order personnel.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2013.

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