CEBU City’s executive department wants to use P1 billion of its P2.3 billion in expected savings this year to fund several infrastructure projects and the free eye check-up for drivers before the elections.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña said they have started discussing the fourth supplemental budget (SB) and its fund sources, but have yet to finalize next week the projects to be funded before it is submitted to the City Council for approval.

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At least P250 million will be set aside for infrastructure projects in the north and south district barangays, including construction and rehabilitation of drainage systems.

Osmeña said that using last year’s surplus and the excess of the projects income this year will also allow the City to buy a new fleet of cars for all city officials and the police department.

Road safety

The mayor also wants to start implementing the free eye check-up for all public utility vehicle drivers who operate in the city, which he said will help ensure road safety.

Osmeña had a meeting with members of the Local Finance Committee yesterday afternoon to discuss the City’s financial position, and learned that the projected surplus for 2010 is P2.3 billion.

The retained operating surplus for 2009 is around P700 million.

He wants to release the funds before the campaign period starts, and said he would not mind if his critics question the timing and the amount of the extra budget.

If the council approves it, it will be the first time for the City to pass a supplemental budget amounting to P1 billion.

Good timing

“The timing is very good, that is why I’m doing it. We have more than P1 billion to spend, will I wait until I’m no longer mayor to spend it? They keep complaining that we’re not giving the people projects, so now we will use our money for projects,” Osmeña said in a phone interview after the meeting.

He said the City has already collected the P1 billion he intends to appropriate for SB 4.

“Our projected surplus is P2.3 billion and even if I spend P1 billion, there’s still a lot of money left for the next mayor to spend…So now we can afford to buy a new fleet of cars for city officials and the police. Our gas guzzlers will have to go,” he said.

The City also intends to include funding for the artificial white-sand beach at the South Road Properties (SRP) in SB 4.

Surplus

Aside from the P700 million in surplus funds last year, the City also stands to get at least P500 million in surplus from the sale of government land and at least P400 million from business tax collection, as reported to the mayor during the finance committee meeting.

The City projected to earn only P787 million from the sale of government land, but has already collected P677 million from the sale of SRP land to SM Prime Holdings Inc.

It will collect another P260 million from Filinvest Land Inc. later this month, and stands to get a total of P434 million more from SM Prime by the end of the year, which will be paid quarterly.

Its projected income from business taxes is only P600 million, but the tax assessments already reached P1 billion.

“Based on our assessment, we confirmed our savings is at least P1 billion. It’s more than that so the City is in a very good financial position, that is why we can afford a P1-billion supplemental budget,” said City Administrator Francisco Fernandez. (LCR)