Editorial: Election year city budget-A A +A
Friday, October 12, 2012
NOBODY is expecting the discussion of the 2013 Cebu City budget that the executive department is cobbling up to be smooth sailing. The process became an intense tug-of-war when the 2012 budget was tackled last year. It will be even more intense for the 2013 budget because Mayor Michael Rama and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK)-controlled city council gird for the mid-term elections next year.
Like last year, the Office of the Mayor is making sure that how the Cebu City Council will treat their proposal will be exposed as mere politicking. The executive department will not only be proposing a big budget, it has also made it appear that the city’s constituents are involved in its preparation, thus the term “people’s budget.”
This would ensure that if the city council approves a drastically reduced budget, it will be considered an affront to the Office of the Mayor and to the “people” that helped in the budgeting process.
A multi-sectoral consultation held last Sept. 11-15 and attended by representatives of the urban poor, senior citizens, the academe, business sector, etc. prompted city hall’s budget office to propose an initial P6 billion budget to fund the stakeholders’ major projects.
City Treasurer Emma Villarete projects the proposed budget to balloon to P13 billion if appropriations for personnel services, debt servicing and infrastructure projects will already be included.
If the city council will be true to its own intention of ensuring that the mayor won’t be able to implement what can be considered as election campaign-enhancing projects, then expect it to once again range the proposed budget with the city’s expected revenue collection in 2013. It’s a convincing pretext for the passage of a skin-and-bones budget.
To expect the mayor to get the budget that he wants next year is to be naïve about the realities confronting a local government unit where the executive and legislative departments are politically at odds with each other. Rama won’t get it, but he can milk the situation to gain sympathy from the voters.
For the city’s constituents, the budgeting tug-of-war will be an opportunity to assess the character of the main protagonists and use the result to guide them when they go to the voting precincts in May.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2012.