Editorial: Talisay’s dilemma

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


ONE almost feels sorry for Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes.

He has served less than a year of his first term as mayor, yet has already been called to account for lapses in financial housekeeping. Some of these lapses he inherited from the administration before.

The latest telling-off came courtesy of the Commission on Audit (COA), which observed last month that the mayor had created five offices whose duties duplicated those being performed by City Hall departments.

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For example, COA said, the mayor’s Project Monitoring Team also received applications for building, fencing or electrical permits, as well as for certificates of occupancy. But these functions belong to the City Engineer’s Office.

To be fair, de los Reyes probably isn’t the only new mayor who faces this dilemma. Even if they want to hire based strictly on merit, new mayors risk alienating supporters who expect to get jobs as rewards for the victorious campaign.

That Mayor de los Reyes found it necessary to create these five offices suggests a lack of trust in some of the personnel he inherited, or a large number of political favors to return. Perhaps he also wants to stay true to his man-of-the-people image, and award as many jobs as he thinks the City can bear.

Unfortunately, that’s a luxury Talisay City cannot afford.

In a separate audit memorandum, COA also pointed out that the City ran up a deficit of P47.92 million last year; one sign of trouble was that it allegedly failed to remit P8.4 million in taxes withheld from workers and suppliers, as well as nearly P3 million in mandatory employees’ contributions.

But this was not the first time COA cautioned Talisay City about the amounts it was spending on wages. In both 2011 and 2012, the City used part of its calamity fund to pay job-order workers’ wages. In 2012, it also charged some P615,000 in consultancy fees to the Special Education Fund.

COA warned these were illegal disbursements.

How Mayor de los Reyes proposes to address these overlaps and, at the same time, bring down the City’s deficit are shaping up as major challenges, as he prepares to enter his second year in office.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 07, 2014.

Opinion

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