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Saturday, July 31, 2021

P2M slashed from okayed annual budget

THE Cebu City Government has a new budget for this year.

The City Council of four approved in a special session yesterday a P6.060-billion annual budget, which is P2 million less than the P6.062-billion proposal that Acting Mayor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña had submitted to the legislative body.

Councilor James Cuenco, who heads the committee on budget and finance in the current council, said they slashed the budget by not including, among others, the P2 million that was supposed to be used for the office of incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Margot’s husband.

Some P1 million was supposed to cover the renovation and purchase of furniture and fixtures for the new mayor’s office on the 8th floor of the executive building at City Hall, the same place he occupied during his previous stint as the city’s chief executive.

The other P1 million was for the purchase of office equipment.

Priorities

Cuenco said they did not include the P2 million because their group, Team Rama, found it an “unnecessary expense.”

The group met Monday night to discuss the budget, among others.

“There are other more important expenditures to spend on. Besides, the Office of the Mayor already has its own budget,” he said.

Cuenco said there are other items that Team Rama would’ve wanted to change or adjust in the annual budget. But he, Philip Zafra and Richie Osmeña, the other remaining Team Rama councilors in the current council, decided to no longer include these.

“There is lack of material time to make other adjustments. It will be so messy. It would take so much time. So we decided to reduce it to its minimum,” he added.

The council, though, approved as is the P88-million mid-year bonus of the more than 5,000 City Hall employees. The amount is equivalent to their one-month salary.

Other items

The council asked the executive department to release the bonus on or before June 30.

Other items included in the budget is the P5-million terminal leave benefits, including those of last-termer city councilors; P3.5-million incentive awards to honor students; P8 million for the special program for affected families; P6 million for the rehabilitation of medical and dental vans of the City; P266 million for the South Road Properties (SRP) principal loan; and P124 million for the SRP interest, among others.

With the new approved budget, the City will no longer be operating on a reenacted budget.

The City passed a new annual budget after the P6.4-billion previously approved annual budget of now outgoing Mayor Michael Rama was declared inoperative by the Department of Budget and Management 7 due to deficiencies.
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