Rama admits budget cut displeases him

CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.Photo from Cebu City PIO

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama is set to issue a “clear” statement regarding the City Council’s decision to reduce the 2024 annual budget from P100 billion to only P22 billion, but he said Thursday, December 21, 2023, that such move displeased him.

During the City Hall’s Christmas party on Thursday, December 21, Rama said he would scrutinize the City Council’s approval of the ordinance pertaining to the annual budget.

“I am reserving my comment on the matter until I talk with the Local Finance Committee (LFC). And I will do the scrutiny on the deliberation of the Sanggunian and I will make a clear position on the matter,” Rama said.

In a text message on Thursday, December 21, when asked about his stance on the approval of the P22 billion annual budget, Cebu City Budget Officer lawyer Jerone Castillo said he would still meet with Rama and the Cebu City Administrator Collin Rosell to discuss the matter.

On Wednesday, December 20, the City Council only approved over P20 billion to cover the next year’s expenses.

Of the total budget, P19.998 billion will be appropriated for the general fund proper, which consists of personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and capital outlay. Another P2.055 billion will be for special accounts.

The annual budget ordinance was authored by City Councilors Noel Wenceslao and Jocelyn Pesquera.

Meanwhile, Rama instructed the LFC to release the P20,000 Christmas bonus for all regular and casual employees, and the P5,000 gratuity pay for the Job Order personnel on Friday, December 22.

Rama said he would sign for the release of the City Council’s only approved amount for the Christmas bonus and gratuity pay, but he would stop there toward the remaining balance, saying politics has played a part in the council’s decision.

“In the interim, I will sign for the release of the P20,000 but we will not stop towards the balance. And likewise the P5,000 (for JOs). And please make it available tomorrow (Dec. 22),” Rama said.

On October 23, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia announced, as instructed to him by Rama, that Cebu City Hall employees would receive a Christmas bonus of P35,000, which is a significant increase from last year’s P20,000.

But on December 13, 2023, the City Council only approved to grant P20,000 bonus for casual and regular, and P5,000 for JOs, when it approved the ordinance authorizing the second supplemental budget amounting to P337.9 million.

On December 18, Rama urged members of the City Council to reconsider their refusal for the City to give the P35,000 in Christmas bonus for casual and regular employees, and P10,000 in gratuity pay for JOs, which he had promised them earlier.

“Ready ko mopirma og mga dokumento. Ipadala nako sa konseho. Ikaduha, mangayo kog special session. I will appeal to them, crying, please council make City Hall employees happy. I am back, and I will fight for it,” Rama said. (AML)

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