LGUs in the Philippines

Housing gets biggest slice of Rama’s P50-B proposed 2023 budget for Cebu City

John Sitchon
Housing gets biggest slice of Rama’s P50-B proposed 2023 budget for Cebu City

SINGAPORE DREAMS. Skyline of Cebu City , which Mayor Mike Rama dreams of turning into a Singapore-like metropolis.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Rama also wants P1.4 billion to build a new Cebu City Hall and legislative building, and to renovate the existing one into a museum

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mayor Mike Rama ‘s humongous proposed budget for this premier Visayas city will underwrite 200 medium-rise buildings (MRBs) for socialized housing.

Rama explained on Wednesday, October 19, his P50-billion proposed budget for 2023, which is five times the city’s P9-billion fund for the current year. Historically, the city’s annual budget has ranged between P8 billion to P11 billion.

Solving the housing problem, the mayor said, is a must if the city aspires to become like Singapore.

The projected amount for the construction of 200 MRBs is P24 billion, plus P1 billion for lot acquisition. 

These MRBs will house 20,000 identified informal settler families affected by demolition operations in line with the city’s river rehabilitation efforts, Jerome Castillo, special assistant to the mayor, told Rappler recently.

Rama also wants to spend P1.4 billion to build a new Cebu City Hall and legislative building, and to renovate the existing one into a museum. 

CITY HALL. The mayor wants the new city hall at the South Road Properties. Photo from Cebu City PIO

For financial assistance, the proposal outlines P1.08 billion for senior citizens’ aid (P12,000 for each senior), and P400 million in cash for the city’s 80 barangays.

Other items in the proposed 2023 budget include:

  • P2.33 billion for a drainage and sewage plant
  • P600 million for retention ponds in frequently flooded areas
  • P196 million for dams in mountainous areas
  • P25.9 million for motor vehicles
FLOOD SOLUTIONS. A concept-design view of the retention ponds by the Cebu City Planning and Development Office. Photo from Cebu City PIO

“The items in the proposed budget are well-founded, not only by my belief, but of the people who expect our government to perform at its best in these trying times,” Rama said.

The mayor submitted the proposal to the Sangguniang Panglungsod on Saturday, October 15. It has been sent to the committee on budget and finance for review. 

After that, the council will hold a series of “marathon hearings” with various department heads, who will be defending their partitions in the proposal.

Where is the city getting money?

The mayor’s executive team has been trying to raise billions for the city’s coffers through what’s referred to as “investment begging.” (READ: Generals and CEOs: Can Rama’s advisers, supporters push Cebu City closer to Singapore status?)

In August, the team managed to raise P1.3 billion from pledges from private companies for the development of the city hospital and the construction of MRBs.

This time, the strategy is to increase the city’s real property tax (RPT) and gain P40.24 billion by 2023.

Previously, the city’s local finance committee (LFC) announced that the city no longer had available cash to use for new projects due to the fact that the city only had P4.5 billion left and was tied to P5 billion in payables.

The LFC also cited the difficult pandemic situation, which resulted in fewer tax collections and large appropriations for COVID-19-related expenditures. Hence, the LFC recommended raising taxes and rightsizing departments.

As of this writing, the LFC is studying possible revisions to the city’s RPT rates. 

The city also expects to get more than P9 billion in taxes, non-tax revenues, shares from the city’s ecozones, and shares in the national tax allotment. – Rappler.com

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