CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has asked for an additional budget for year 2023; this time to fund the proposed P35,000 bonus which he promised to give to regular and casual employees of City Hall before Christmas.
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, the City Council convened a budget hearing for the proposed P300 million second supplemental budget (SB2) and the resolution approved by the Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence granting the cash incentive.
City Councilor Noel Wenceslao, committee on budget and finance chairman, said that based on the presentation of the Local Finance Committee (LFC), the proposed expenditure of the SB2 is the P35,000 bonus.
Wenceslao, in a phone interview after the budget hearing, said the SB2 will be sourced from the funded yet unfilled and unutilized regular positions in City Hall.
“Unfilled yet funded nga mga position nga bakante gihapon katung mga regular nga wala ma-fill up ug wala ma-utilized mao ang atung gigamit ani,” he said.
Based on the executive department’s proposal, around P167 million will be allocated for the bonuses of regular and casual employees, while around P30 million will be allocated for the gratuity pay of job order (JO) employees, he said.
He said the source of funds identified by the LFC is enough to cover the total amount needed to finance the bonuses of 1,345 regular employees, around 3,000 casual employees and elected officials, and the gratuity pay of around 3,000 JO employees.
In a special session conducted on Monday, Dec. 4, City Councilor Nestor Archival questioned why the budget for the bonus was not included in the annual budget.
Wenceslao explained that the granting of a bonus to employees “is not on a regular basis.” But he pointed out that the City has been giving bonuses to employees in the past, although the amount varies.
Archival suggested allocating or including in the annual budget an amount of at least P5,000 per employee to do away with a budget hearing to which Wenceslao agreed, saying he will suggest it to the executive department.
Still up to the council
After the budget hearing, Wenceslao will file the committee report, as well as the resolution for the final deliberation of the proposals, in the council’s next regular session on Dec. 13.
The city official said he cannot yet assure that the council will approve the SB2 or the bonus or the gratuity pay. He said the council may still amend or disapprove all three.
Archival, during the budget hearing, asked the executive department to release the cash incentives before Christmas once the council approves the budget.
In previous reports, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, together with Mayor Michael Rama, who is currently on vacation in Australia, announced during the flag ceremony on Oct. 23 that the bonus, once approved, will be disbursed within November or in December, at the very latest, to allow City Hall employees to celebrate the holiday with additional financial support.
The planned P35,000 bonus will be 250 percent more than the bonus released five years ago.
In 2018, during the time of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, around 5,000 regular and contractual City Hall employees only received P10,000, while around 3,000 JO employees received P2,000.
In 2019, during the time of the late mayor Edgardo Labella, the employees’ Christmas bonus doubled to P20,000.
However, during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the City chose to only give P10,000.
In 2021 and 2022, the City returned to granting P20,000 Christmas bonus to its regular and casual employees.