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CEBU, Philippines – The Cebu City Council in a majority vote approved Mayor Mike Rama’s proposed budget of more than P51 billion for 2023 with some major amendments.
This is the biggest approved annual budget that the city has ever had—five times the city’s P9-billion fund for 2022.
It includes P49,703,047,474.00 for General Funds and P1,754,668,211.30 for Special Accounts.
During the council’s 20th regular session on Wednesday, December 28, Majority Floor Leader Joy Pesquera reported a deduction of P2 billion from the city’s maintenance and other operating expenses.
“If you noticed, the [amount] for medium-rise buildings (MRBs) rose, we just added it up there, and also all land acquisition will be taken from the lump-sum appropriation,” Pesquera said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
The total amount for the construction of MRBs is now at P26.3 billion from the proposed P24 billion. The council added P1.5 billion for the acquisition of lots for the MRBs.
Another amendment to the budget was the P1.3-million deduction for the procurement of motor vehicles under the legislative’s office. The amount was reallocated to the City Agriculture Department for a solar irrigation system.
Ten councilors from the majority party approved the ordinance for the proposed budget, authored by Councilor Noel Wenceslao.
Opposition leaders Nestor Archival, Mary Ann De Los Santos, and Jose Abellanosa voted against it. Only Councilor Franklyn Ong abstained. Four councilors were absent.
Where will the city get funds?
The city government is expected to raise P40.2 billion from its real property tax (RPT) collections in 2023.
On December 20, Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia said in a press conference that these collections will be staggered. This was done in consideration of businesses and private entities that might be affected by the increased RPT.
Wenceslao clarified that this won’t be the only source of funds. Other sources include P3.5 billion from business tax, P2.7 billion from the National Tax allotment, P2.1 billion from non-tax revenue, P798 million from other local taxes, and P300 million from ecozone shares.
Both Archival and De Los Santos expressed their displeasure over the “rushed approval” of the 2023 annual budget.
De Los Santos moved to have the proposed ordinance referred to the Committee on Laws, Ordinances, and Styling due to the “substantial amendments” reported by Pesquera.
Pesquera replied that it’s only normal for the council to amend the figures found in the proposed budget, citing the local government code that says the council has the power to do so.
Archival, on the other hand, questioned why the council was approving the ordinance when the council has yet to approve the RPT increase, which promises the P40-billion bulk of the fund source.
Wenceslao disagreed, saying that “the estimates reasonably projected as collectible for the budget is subject to the improved and enhanced collection efforts and other revenue measures…”
Where else will the money go to?
Besides the allocation for the lot acquisition and construction of MRBs, the budget will underwrite the following:
- P2.33 billion for the integrated project for water, drainage, and sewage plant
- P1.17 billion for Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) construction services
- P1.08 billion for financial assistance for senior citizens
- P600 million for lot acquisition for other purposes
- P521.9 million for the maintenance of national/city streets and bridges
- P500 million for slope protection in landslide-prone areas
- P400 million for the construction of the new legislative building
- P400 million for the construction of a new City Hall at the South Road Properties
- P400 million for financial assistance to 80 barangays
- P300 million for the City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicines Program (CHAMP)
- P300 million for digital highways in City Hall
- P300 million for retention ponds in frequently flooded areas
- P150 million for dams in mountainous areas
- P100 million for the Cebu City College
- P100 million for drainage projects
- P100 million for motor vehicles
- P71 million for the construction of bridges