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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Cebu City budget rejected

ALREADY halfway through the year, the Cebu City Government has no approved annual budget for this year still.

The four-member City Council denied the P6-billion second proposed and revised 2016 annual budget that Acting Mayor Margarita Osmeña recently submitted.

During the budget hearing yesterday, Councilor James Cuenco moved that the proposed annual budget be denied for several reasons, particularly some legal questions that are still “hanging.”

Among these, he said, was the lack of preparation for the deliberation on the proposed annual budget, plus questions as to who is authorized to submit it and competence to tackle it.

Cuenco, who chairs the committee on budget and finance for the current council, said that the decision to deny the budget is a party decision of Team Rama.

“Much to my dismay, with a heavy heart, I would like to point out that upon consultation with the other members of the remaining council, and of course, our group, which will now compose the majority, it is the collective sense that we have come here, we would not want to adjudicate unto ourselves, into our hands, the decision on whether or not to approve this revised annual budget considering that there are only four of us here,” Cuenco said during the deliberation.

Cuenco wanted the upcoming council and the new executive department to have a hand in the preparation, deliberation and approval of this year’s annual budget.

He said the annual budget is “an important piece of legislation,” and it will be more prudent to discuss it with more minds sharing their sides on the matter.

“And we cannot ordain ourselves and leave it in our hands to deliberate, hashasan ang budget nga wala man tawn mi kabangkaagan lagi. Wala ta kahibaw duna ba’y sayop or duna ba’y sakto. Wala’y eksperto namo (We cannot scrutinize the budget when we we’re no knowledgeable. We wouldn’t know if there are mistakes. There are no experts among us),” he said.

Cuenco was the author of the resolution returning the old proposed budget, that suspended Mayor Michael Rama submitted, to allow Osmeña to submit a simpler one and allow them to deliberate and approve it immediately.

Because of the matter, he said he take full responsibility for his actions and the criticisms thrown by the public.

First time

In an interview, Acting Vice Mayor Lea Japson said it is the first time for the City Government to have no approved annual budget.

Although they can operate on a reenacted budget, but Japson said the proposed annual budget that Osmeña submitted included the mandated 14th month pay of employees, salary for newly hired employees and its statutory obligation for the South Road Properties loan.

Akong luoyan ang mga empleyado kay ang ilang bonus wa naapil sa 2015 budget, so wala sila’y madawat (I pity the employees since their bonus is not included in the 2015 budget),” she said.

Sixty-two-year-old Romeo Manapat said he was dismayed over the denial of the proposed annual budget, which he will supposedly use to start a business, considering that the present administration has announced that most of the casual employees will not be renewed after June 30.

Ma’y na lang unta to pero wala ta’y mahimo ana pero at least hatagan unta nila. Syaro na man sad dili sila makonsensya. Sayun-sayunon lang nila ang mga taw, amo man na, naa man na sa balaod (That would have been good but we can’t do anything about it. They could have given us something. At least, they should think about us. They just take people for granted; that is ours, that is in the law),” he said.

Manapat is a casual employee assigned at the Civil Security Unit of City Hall.

Political

Sought for comment, Osmeña said the move of the council is politically motivated after Cuenco revealed that it was a party decision to deny the proposed budget.

“I just feel sorry for them, especially for Councilor Cuenco because in my mind and as I understood it, he was very sincere in his offer to return the budget which he did and for the very reason that he stated when he returned the budget,” the acting mayor said.

Now that her proposed budget has been denied, Osmeña said the City can operate on a re-enacted budget since the incoming administration will start working on the proposed annual budget for next year starting July 15.

“We did na our share, the ball was in their hands so apparently they threw the ball back. In the end, they need to do a lot more explaining than us,” she pointed out.
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