ORMOC CITY – The city council here, during their session held on Tuesday (December 23), passed on second reading the city’s proposed annual budget of P 1,010,806,038.00 for 2015, but with amendments to some fund allocations.
City councilor Mario “Mayong” Rodriguez, chair of the finance committee, said that after eight finance committee meetings to deliberate on the budget, it was decided to pass the P 1.01-billion budget albeit with some reductions in the proposed expenditures.
Ormoc’s budget, he said, increased by around 13 percent from that of 2014 because the City’s share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) also increased by 13.8% compared to this year’s.
The IRA is the various LGU’s share from national tax revenues collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue two years before. In 2012, reforms introduced by Commissioner Kim Henares dramatically increased the national revenue, hence the windfall to LGUs this year.
Ormoc City’s IRA for this year is P 732,616.038. Meanwhile, city treasurer Angelo Roman projects that they would be able to collect local taxes of P 278,190,000.00 on 2015, hence the total proposed budget of P 1.01-billion.
“The city treasurer assured the SP that his estimate for our local income next year is very achievable,” noted Dr. Mayong.
Important budget cuts, itemization
In its eight meetings with the executive finance committee, the councilors has stressed the point that they wanted “lump sum” expenditures itemized.
Councilor Bennet Pongos Jr. has pointed out many times that the “lump sums” were just like the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds of Pres. Benigno C. Aquino which the Supreme Court had ruled as unconstitutional.
Pongos Jr. also noted that other priority areas were left unfunded like the establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development (SMED) Council and the City Investment and Incentive Board. The city’s investment code, which is more than 5 years old, is being revisited already and reviewed even as it has never been implemented, but not a single centavo was allocated to it.
The city executive office finally relented to the issue and allocated P 500,000.00 to the SMED and another P 500,000.00 to the Investment Board.
The Ormoc City Technology and Manpower Training Center also got another P 500,000.00.
Dr. Rodriguez, in his final committee report before the passage of the budget, said that they proposed cutting down a P 5-million budget under the City Mayor’s budget for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). P 1.5-million was equally divided to the SMED Council, Incentive Board and the Manpower Center while the remaining P 3.5-million was relegated to “Other Expenses”.
Ormoc’s city maternal and child hospital
The finance committee also had a lengthy deliberation of the proposed budget on the city’s maternal and children’s hospital which was destroyed by Yolanda before it was finished.
In the 2015 proposed budget, the mayor’s office asked to fund P 23.28-million for personnel services; another P 10-million for MOOE and Capital Outlay of P 2.3-million or a total budget of P 35,588,782.00 million.
Since the hospital is still inoperative and needs to be restored to pre-Yolanda conditions, then finished, the council felt that cutting down the MOOE from P 10-million to P 4.5-million was practicable.
“The members believe that the allocated MOOE are parked funds that can be used productively for other programs,” said Dr. Rodriguez.
During the committee meetings, the question about who foots the construction cost to finish the hospital or at least restore it to pre-Yolanda level would always crop up. Around two weeks ago, the finance committee got their answer from city legal officer Ivan Verallo who said it was the City’s responsibility.
Engr. Raoul Cam, city planning and development officer and head of the technical working group on the hospital construction, said that some P 21.65-million was needed to restore the mother and child hospital to pre-Yolanda level, with a timeline of 210 days of seven months.
After which, another P 71.5 – million was needed to finish it, with an estimated timeline of 4 months. Barring delays, the mother and child hospital is expected to be finished by November of 2015.
This led the city council to decide to “slash” the MOOE funds because the hospital, granted it becomes operational by November, would only need a fraction of the P 10-million to operate until January 2016, when a new budget is approved.
For rescue equipments
Instead of the remaining hospital MOOE funds just parked and unspent, the council said it would better be used to support the City’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC), especially for the acquisition of rescue equipment.
“We believed that with the ever increasing strength of typhoons brought about by cimate change that regularly hit our city, there is a need to further improve our disaster preparedness through a better equipped rescue teams,” said Rodriguez in his report.
Aside from the P 5.5-million from the hospital funds, the CDRRMC here now has 46-million for 2015, representing a mandatory allocation of 5% as the LGUs calamity funds.
The committee report, as read by Dr. Mayong, was signed councilors Roland Villasencio, vice-chairman and members Tomas Serafica, Eusebio Gerardo Penserga, Vincent Rama, Antonio Codilla and Ruben Capahi. with Jhay Gaspar