Rama ‘displeased’ with budget cut

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 statement regarding the City Council’s decision to slash the 2024 annual budget from P100 billion to only P22 billion.

The mayor, who got his requested P50 billion budget for 2023, failed to convince the council to double the city’s operating budget to P100 billion in 2024.

Rama, however, in a report from the City’s public information office said he would scrutinize the City Council’s approval of the ordinance on the annual budget, saying that it displeased him.

“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,” said Rama during City Hall’s Christmas party on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023.

SunStar Cebu tried to get a statement from Rama but to no avail.

On Thursday night, Rama reminded everyone, including the members of the City Council, that they are “one family of public servants.”

He emphasized that, as a family, quoting the party’s theme, they should aim to provide a “Pasko’ng Malipayon sa Pamilyang Sugboanon” (Joyful Christmas for the Cebuano Family).

Rama, in his role as the city mayor, urged his “family of servants” in Cebu City Hall to regard him as their father. He expressed that, as his children, they should strive not to make their father sad.

Rama admitted that the council’s decision regarding the annual budget, as well as the City Hall employees’ bonus, had left him feeling disheartened.

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

Last Wednesday, Dec. 20, the City Council only approved some P22 billion to cover 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, and capital outlay, and another P2.055 billion for special accounts.

Rama can veto

In a text message on Thursday, Cebu City Councilor Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, said the mayor has the power to veto the ordinance on the annual budget, which would require a two-thirds vote to amend.

A Facebook post of Sangguniang Panlungsod Cebu City-Secretariat said the City Council already conducted its last session on Thursday for Calendar Year 2023.

According to the post, the City Council conducted a total of 20 regular sessions, 21 executive sessions, and two special sessions from July 2023.

Christmas bonus

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 (JO) personnel on Friday, Dec. 22.

Rama said he would sign for the release of the City Council’s approved amount for the Christmas bonus and gratuity pay, but would not stop until the remaining balance had been provided. He said politics had 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 Oct. 23, 2023, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, as instructed by Rama, announced during the flag-raising ceremony that Cebu City Hall employees would receive a Christmas bonus of P35,000, a significant jump from last year’s P20,000.

However, on Dec. 13, the City Council approved the grant of only a P20,000 bonus for casual and regular employees, and P5,000 for JOs, when it approved the ordinance authorizing the second supplemental budget amounting to P337.9 million.

On Dec. 18, Rama urged members of the City Council to reconsider their refusal of the City to give the P35,000 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 (I am ready to sign documents). Ipadala nako sa konseho (I will send it to the council). Ikaduha, mangayo kog (Second, I will ask for a 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.

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