THE P20.15 billion budget for next year proposed by the executive department of the Cebu Provincial Government has been unanimously approved.

The Provincial Board (PB)—dominated by lawmakers allied with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia—made no amendments to the budget, which it passed on third and final reading during its regular session on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

PB Member Glenn Anthony Soco (Cebu, 6th district) confirmed to reporters the approval of the budget ordinance.

“Walay amendments nga gihimo for the budget 2023 nga gi-aprubahan ganina for second reading and then subsequently gi-aprubahan pod siya for third and final reading. Wala may concerns, walay questions kanamo sa hunta probinsyal kay nagpahigayon man sad ta og budget deliberations and we trust the executive department as well sa ilang pag-formulate sa continuity sa programs, plans and projects sa atong governor nga nakita nato sa pipila ka tuig sa administration kuyog ni Governor Gwen nga naa gyu’y mga kausaban nga nakita,” Soco said.

(No amendments were made for the budget for 2023 that was first approved for second reading and then subsequently approved for third and final reading. There were neither concerns nor questions from the Provincial Board because we already conducted budget deliberations and we trust the executive department in formulating the continuity of the programs, plans and projects of the governor that have brought changes in the years under the administration of Governor Gwen.)

The P20.15 billion budget for 2023 is 10.11 percent higher than the Province’s 2022 annual budget worth P18.3 billion.

The lion’s share of the budget is allocated for economic services at P9.26 billion, taking up a 45.98 percent share, followed by social services at P8.75 billion (43.43 percent) and general public services at P2.13 billion (10.59 percent).

Governor Garcia had said in her letter to the PB that next year’s budget had been crafted with “significant consideration” of programs for sectors “most affected by Covid-19 in order to provide the necessary stimulus for economic recovery and projects.”

The governor had also announced her plan to pour in more budget allocations for infrastructure and health services, such as road networks, water system development and the improvement of health services in provincial and district hospitals.

Of the proposed P20.15 billion budget, P10 billion will be allocated for development projects, which is P1.5 billion higher than this year’s allocation.

As part of her agenda to invest more in infrastructure projects and improve the delivery of health services, Garcia allocated P3 billion for the concreting and improvement of road networks; another P3 billion for water system development, particularly bulk water supply; P3 billion for upgrading of hospital infrastructure and health facilities, acquisition of medical equipment and Covid-19 response; and P3.4 billion for operation of hospitals and public health services.

Garcia also allocated funds for the Province’s countryside development and food sufficiency programs such as the Sugbo Negosyo program (P100 million), Sugbusog (P166 million), Sugbo Kahanas (P100 million), and for agricultural, veterinary and environmental facilities (P123 million).

The proposed budget is set to be signed by Governor Garcia for the final approval. (ANV / TPT)