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Treasurer says city can afford P35K bonus

AT LEAST two weeks before Christmas, amid uncertainties surrounding the release of the promised P35,000 bonus for regular and casual Cebu City Hall employees and P10,000 gratuity pay for job order (JO) personnel, the city treasurer assures that the required funding is feasible.

The City Council is expected to conduct the final deliberation of the proposed bonus and gratuity pay during their regular session on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.

In a text message on Sunday, Dec. 10, City Councilor Noel Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, said it would be the time when they would know the exact amount they could allocate for the bonuses.

In a separate interview on Friday, Dec. 8, City Treasurer Mare Vae Reyes said there are sufficient funds for the proposed P35,000 Christmas bonus for casual and regular employees, as well as city officials, and for the P10,000 gratuity pay for the JOs.

The Cebu City Government employs 1,345 regular, 3,000 casual, and 3,000 JO personnel. At least P182,000,000 will be required for the bonuses and gratuity pay.

“In terms of funding, it’s not an additional allocation from the P50 billion,” she said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

“It comes from the savings of personal services, where there are funded plantilla positions that remain unfilled within the year. So, we use these savings as the source for our current bonus... We can meet the funding requirement for the P35,000 each,” she added.

Reyes said the required amount will be drawn from the P8 billion collection of the City, the only accumulated amount from its target P50 billion budget for the year 2023.

“As of now, we have P8 billion... this is where we will get the P35,000,” she said.

She added that the proposed P10,000 for JO personnel will also be sourced from the unused funds of the 2023 annual budget.

Reyes said the only concern raised by the councilors was if the treasurer’s office could release the bonuses before Christmas. She assured that the executive department would make an effort to release the bonuses early, provided the council completes the deliberation on Dec. 13.

She added that Wenceslao instructed her not to put the amount on the payroll yet, even if they prepare it ahead of time without the final amount.

SunStar Cebu earlier reported that of the collected P8 billion gross amount, only P5 billion is allocated for some projects.

The P35,000 bonus was announced by Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, upon the orders of Mayor Michael Rama, during their flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall last Oct. 23.

Despite failing to meet the P50 billion target for the annual budget in 2023, the City Government, through the City Council, is currently deliberating on Rama’s proposal to double the amount to P100 billion for the annual budget in 2024.

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