Council: Sale of NRA block can’t fund SB1

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


THE Cebu City Council yesterday questioned the sources of funds for the executive department's proposed first supplemental budget (SB1) this year amounting to P325.5 million.

The sources of funds presented yesterday by City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas to the legislative body included the projected sale of the two-hectare Block 27 at the North Reclamation Area, which has an estimated value of about P300 million.

The remaining P25.5 million of SB1 will come from realignment of continuing appropriations for the years 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

During the budget hearing, Councilor Alvin Arcilla said Block 27 cannot be considered a source of funds for SB1 because it has not been sold yet.

Cuevas said they identified the sale of Block 27 as source of funds because the City Council last year gave the executive department the authority to sell the property.

Former councilor now City Attorney V Jose Daluz III, one of those who prepared SB1, said Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code states that sources of funds include actual cash and assets, such as real property that is convertible to cash.

During his term in the council, Daluz headed the committee on budget and finance.

After a two-hour break, the local finance committee presented a revised list of fund sources for SB1.

These are the realignment of P20 million out of the P50 million set aside last year for the purchase of lots for river improvement; and P280 million from the P700 million allotted in 2013 and this year for the repair and construction of drainage systems.

Councilor Eugenio Gabuya, however, questioned the realignment of the budget for drainage projects that, he said, are considered priorities of the administration because they are meant to address flooding.

Replenish

City Planning and Development Office Chief Engineer Kenneth Enriquez said the City Government can replenish the budget for the drainage projects.

Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos said RA 7160 allows a local government unit to pass a supplemental budget if there is a new revenue source or if there is a calamity.

More than P300 million of the proposed SB1 will be used to begin construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center as the old city hospital was declared unsafe after an earthquake last Oct. 15.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo said the executive branch at City Hall should have cited calamity as ground for the SB1 and not the existence of a new fund source.

This way, he said, the City can just realign items covered in the previous years’ budgets.

Revised

“If we anchor our argument on the actual cash, I think it cannot be done because there are no funds available. I support the SB but we should define the basis of doing so and that is the public calamity,” he said.

The CCMC ad hoc committee will present in today’s City Council session its revised plan for a new city hospital.

Delos Santos reminded the council of the urgency of the CCMC project. Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella agreed.

“The lack of hospital is a continuing public calamity. The life of a patient should be given priority,” he said. “There’s time to replenish the funds that have been realigned.”

The council is expected to tackle the SB1 again today during its regular session.

Aside from the CCMC, other items that will be funded by the SB1 are the purchase of caskets for the City's burial assistance program (P2 million), miscellaneous services for barangay fire auxillary force (P6.5 million) and the monetization of leave credits of City Hall employees (P5 million).

Other items include local traveling expenses (P1 million) and a lump sum appropriation for maintenance and other operating services (P10 million).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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