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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Joy bares Cebu City’s ‘true’ financial state

THE administration of former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama left City Hall with more money compared to the time when Mayor Tomas Osmeña ended his term as local chief executive slx years ago.

This was what Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on budget and finance, reported in an attempt to dismiss claims of Osmeña that the City Government now has no money.

“Blatant lie”

She said Osmeña used this reason to justify the need to terminate the services of job-order and casual employees and to slash allowances to the judiciary and barangays, among others.

“When he said the City does not have funds or the City is having deficit or the City is bankrupt, that is a blatant lie,” Pesquera said.

In a privilege speech during the council’s session yesterday afternoon, Pesquera, a lawyer and an accountant, presented a comparative statement of the financial performance of the two administrations.

In December 2009, shortly before Osmeña’s last term ended, Pesquera said the City only generated more than P3 billion from taxes, share from internal revenue collections, and other share from national taxes and sales of assets.

More money

In December 2015, however, she said Rama’s administration earned more than double and the City’s revenues already reached around P6.3 billion.

Deducting all the City’s current operating expenses, such as those for salaries and maintenance and other operating expenses, Pesquera said the City’s net income in 2009 was around P997 million but it reached P1.5 billion last year.

“So is the City bankrupt with this amount of money? As the saying goes, figures do not lie. Only liars cannot figure,” she said.

Pesquera went on to compare the City’s cash flow or all the money the City received in both years.

In 2009, she said, the City’s cash flow was only P4.2 billion, but it reached P13.9 billion in 2015.

After deducting the City’s cash outflows or total disbursements made in both years, the councilor said the City still had more money during Rama’s term.

The City’s cash end in 2015, she said, reached P8.27 billion, compared to the P2.28 billion in 2009.

“Now is the City bankrupt with P8.2-billion cash on hand and in bank? Again, figures do not lie only liars cannot figure,” she said.

Reaction

Sought for comment about this, Osmeña said the previous administration had more money because of the “anomalous” sale of the 45.2-hectare land at the South Road Properties (SRP).

He had questioned the transaction, saying there was “monopoly” during the bidding. He had since announced that he wants the deal revoked.

Pesquera, in the same privilege speech, compared how much the City earned when Osmeña sold SRP lots in 2009 and when Rama did the same in 2015.

During Osmeña’s administration, the City, she said, disposed a total of 81 hectares but the City earned less.

It included the 10.6 hectares purchased by Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) for P15,000 per square meter and the 40-hectare joint venture that the developer had with the City.

It also included the more than 30 hectares that was sold to SM Prime Holdings Inc. for P8,910 per square meter.

More lucrative deal

For the lots purchased, Pesquera said, the City only earned P4.3 billion and it was payable in six years.

For the joint-venture agreement between FLI and the City, the latter will only earn P4.53 billion, which is payable in 18 years.

During Rama’s administration, Pesquera said only 45.2 hectares were sold amounting to P16.76 billion.

It covered the 26-hectare property bought by SM in consortium with Ayala Land-Cebu Holdings Inc. The deal was closed for more than P10 billion at P38,000 per square meter.

It also included the 19.2 hectares bought by FLI. The property was sold for P6.75 billion at P35,128 per square meter.

The three developers already made a 50-percent down payment to the City last year while the balance is payable in three years starting this year.

“Now, which transactions the City gained?” asked Pesquera.

Following her presentation, Pesquera said the City remains financially stable.

After her privilege speech, Pesquera moved that copies of her report be furnished to all barangays, to the Association of Barangay Councils and the Barangay Councilors League of the Philippines. Her motion was approved.

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