Clark Chamber of Commerce’s letter to mayor questioned-A A +A
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
ANGELES CITY -– The Office of the City Mayor said a letter from the Metro Clark Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MACCI), which asked for the reduction of the city budget, has been questioned by many of those whose names were included as signatories.
Marco Nepomuceno, regional director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI); Arsenio Valdes, past president of the Environmental Practitioners Association; Cynthia Gueco, past president of Rotary Club Kuliat; Gerry Tayag of Taguete Realty Inc.; and lawyer Alejandro Buan, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Angeles Chapter, denied signing the document or giving permission for their electronic signatures to be pasted in the letter.
Lawyer Buan said there is no IBP-Angeles Chapter but only IBP-Pampanga and Angeles City Lawyers League.
City Administrator Dennis Albert Pamintuan said the MACCI leadership, particularly its president, Frankie Villanueva, should explain why many of the group’s officers denied signing the letter.
“We understand the concern of MACCI, which we consider as a partner in the development of Angeles and we respect its position. However, there are certain realities that we must consider, even as we assure MACCI that we shall be very prudent in the disposition of our budget,” Pamintuan said.
Pamintuan said the increase in the budget of the city from P1.2 billion in 2012 to P1.3 billion this year is necessary to implement key programs and obligations of the city, including the last tranche of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), the transfer of the City College of Angeles from its temporary location at the City Library to its new campus in Barangay Pampang, among others.
He lamented, however, that the issue raised has political undertones. Curiously, the MACCI letter has jibed with a recent media statement of Representative Carmelo Lazatin that the city budget has been “overestimated.”
Pamintuan said the approved 2013 budget is proportionately less compared to the budget increases of the previous administrations, considering the programs of the current administration, inflation and payment of loans by the past administrations of Lazatin and Nepomuceno and the reduction of the city’s share in the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the National Government.
He said the implementation of the final phase of the SSL would require P150 million for 2013, while debt servicing is budgeted at P130 million annually.
City treasurer Juliet Quinsaat also denied that the city has not achieved its revenue collections target in 2012, contrary to the claim of MACCI. She said total collections in 2012 (as of November 22) was already P411 million.
“Even their figures on the city’s 2011 of P249 million was inaccurate as the actual collections based on records for that year for business taxes and licenses was P409 million,” Quinsaat said.
The group also asked why they were not invited in the budget deliberations. But contrary to their claim, Angeles City Vice Mayor Vicky Vega-Cabigting clarified that the budget deliberations have been opened to the public and was even repeatedly announced over the radio.
“Members of the media were present during the deliberations, but they or any other private groups and individuals cannot participate in the discussions and approval of the budget as only the members of the Council are authorized to do so,” she said.
Vega-Cabigting said the budget was approved by the City Council after lengthy and careful deliberations, and has already reduced it.
The City Council also attached a provision to the budget that 10 percent of the Special Programs Fund may only be programmed if local tax collections increase, Vega-Cabigting said.
In compliance with the provision, Pamintuan said the Office of the Mayor already issued a memorandum calling for 20 percent of the Special Program budget as well as the maintenance and other operations expenses (MOOE) of departments be set aside as “reserved funds.”
“Further, we are still on austerity mode and continue to implement the Executive Order on austerity measures,” Pamintuan said, adding that there are obligations incurred by the previous administrations that must also be amortized.
Both the Lazatin and Nepomuceno administrations separately acquired loans from several government banks totaling to almost P1 billion.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 08, 2013.