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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Council to reduce P9.8B budget

THE Cebu City Council will likely reduce the executive department’s revised P9.8-billion annual budget for this year.

Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the committee on budget and finance, said they will work on the budget based on the documents submitted by the local finance committee.

“We will base everything on whatever we have. We will use whatever documents submitted,” she said as the council resumed its budget hearing yesterday.

During the hearing, Osmeña told the local finance committee that there are still several documents that are not given to them.

These include the demand letter from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for the pre-payment of the P2.4-billion loan balance from the South Road Properties (SRP).

Paying off the balance has been pushed by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama since last year.

Osmeña also said she got a letter from the LBP informing her that the City has not yet sold more than 50 percent of the entire 330-hectare property, but only 35.77 percent.

One of the justification made by the executive on the pre-payment of the SRP loan is Section 6.6 of the subsidiary loan agreement for the SRP that was signed in 1996.

Balance

It states that the City should not sell more than 51 percent of the SRP while the loan balance is still there, unless the proceeds shall be used to pay the LBP and the Japan International Cooperation Agency in full.

The executive said the City had already disposed of more than half of the property.

“It does not again reconcile with the LBP,” Osmeña said.

Plans

Aside from this, Osmeña said the executive department did not submit the plans for the construction of a P50-million medium-rise building for the urban poor families and informal settlers.

City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia said they have already asked the plans from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) but its chief, Atty. Collin Rosell, has yet to submit them.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said the City Government doesn’t have to spend millions for the medium-rise building, considering that there is already a P78-million aid from the National Housing Authority that can be used.

Osmeña said the executive failed to submit the letter request regarding the P5 million worth of supplies for day care teachers, the P24 million worth of medicines to senior citizens and the P170 million financial assistance.

Gumia said City Administrator Lucelle Mercado already sent a letter to DWUP and the Department of Social Welfare Services about the submission of necessary documents. But as of yesterday, they have not received any document yet.

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