Rama vetoes budget items

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama vetoed the budget ordinance covering the P13.4-billion annual budget of the City Government this year.

In his nine-page veto message addressed to the City Council, the mayor expressed his line objection to 20 “inappropriate provisions” and special conditions that the council placed in City Ordinance 2417. He said these restrict his authority as the local chief executive.

Among the items vetoed is the provision on the sources of funds, since the council did not follow the details certified by the local finance committee.

The mayor had earlier asked for P18.9 billion as the budget for 2015, but the council approved only P13.4 billion.

Of the P13.4 billion, P8.89 billion will be sourced from tax revenues (P2.98 billion), non-tax revenues (P770 million), external sources (P1.5 billion), sales of disposed assets (P490 million), auction sale of real properties (P50 million), domestic borrowings (P3.1 billion) and sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots (P4.5 billion).

On the sale of SRP lots, the mayor objected to the council’s special provision, which states that all capital outlay expenses amounting to P4.5 billion will only be implemented upon the disposal of the properties.

Rama believes it is an “inappropriate provision” as it violates the “one-fund policy” provided for under the Local Government Code.

Complementary

“While I firmly believe in the complementary roles of the executive and legislative branches in crafting and monitoring the annual budget, I am mindful of legal fiats and jurisprudential rulings stating that the budget remains the sole responsibility and accountability of the executive department. Any provision to the contrary is again a usurpation of my exclusive authority,” he said.
Another item vetoed by the mayor is the special provision in the ordinance that provides that appropriations for maintenance and other operating expenses shall not be used for the payment of honorarium for job-order personnel, unless authorized by the council.

He said it violates Section 77 of the Local Government Code, which gives exclusively to the executive the hiring of emergency and casual employees.

He also said that requiring prior approval of the council is an “ultra vires” act or beyond the council’s powers.

For specific budgetary items, the mayor vetoed the special condition set by the council for the release of the P720-million financial assistance to the senior citizens. Each senior citizen in the city is supposed to receive P12,000 and the council required the executive to release P1,000 monthly.

He said this is contrary to the resolution passed by the council in 2012, which provides that the financial assistance will be given in lump sum or installment.

Intervention

He added that the monthly release of the allowances will be inconvenient to the elderly as they would always have to line up for their money.

Mayor Rama also objected to a requirement set by the council for the release of the P800-million aid to the 80 barangays; the council has required its prior approval.

“These measures, in the form of special conditions, which govern the areas of project identification and fund releases, are not related to the functions of the Sangguniang Panlungsod oversight and, hence, if not curtailed, will allow the council to intervene and/or assume duties that properly belong to the sphere of budget execution,” he said.

Rama gave the same reason in vetoing the condition for the implementation of the P1.5-billion drainage program. The council had said it wanted the areas where the project will be implemented approved by them first, as well as the P51 million for the garbage collection and disposal program.

Also, the mayor objected to the budget ordinance’s penalty clause, which provides that those who will violate the ordinance will be held liable for administrative, civil and criminal offenses.

“Consistent with the existing laws and jurisprudence, an appropriation ordinance should not carry a penalty clause. Already replete are laws of general and special application penalizing violations of appropriation ordinances and the budget execution thereof. Thus, any penalty clause in an appropriation ordinance is irrelevant and extraneous to the provisions therein and must be therefore struck down for being inappropriate,” he said.

‘Non-existent’

Other items vetoed by Mayor Rama are the special provisions covering the release of the P8.8 million for consultancy services, P42 million for City-sponsored activities, P5 million for the implementation of the Special Program for Employment of Students and P3 million for sports supplies.

He also vetoed the special provisions covering P21.6 million for sports development projects and all items that were given zero appropriation by the council.

“In summation, any or all inappropriate provisions, pursuant to law and existing jurisprudence, shall be treated as non-existent and without legal effect whatsoever,” Rama said.

The council received Rama’s veto message yesterday.

Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the council’s committee on budget and finance, said she will discuss with her colleagues first what action they will take on the veto.

It was Osmeña who drafted the council-approved ordinance covering the 2015 annual budget.
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