Cabaero: New budget

Nini Cabaero

A DAY after the Cebu City Government approved its P10.4 billion budget for 2020, word got out that a supplemental fund may be needed as early as February.

The budget takes effect in the new year and, already, the amount approved might not be enough to meet all of the City’s needs.

Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, Council committee on budget and finance chairman, said Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, the first supplemental budget for next year might be proposed by Mayor Edgardo Labella as early as February to cover the purchase of equipment for City Hall offices and the additional aid for senior citizens.

Garcia said the budget allocated for capital outlay and aid for senior citizens in the approved annual budget might fall short. Thus, there will be a need for an additional budget. A supplemental budget is an addition to the already enacted annual appropriation. It is resorted to when the need is urgent and cannot wait for the next annual budget.

But to have the additional amount soon, or in the second month of the new budget, speaks of something not considered in the funding plans. For what reason this was not considered, only the councilors know.

In the Council deliberations on the annual budget, there was no mention of not having enough funds for capital outlay or for the seniors’ aid. There was mention of paying a huge loan, modernizing the traffic system, improving garbage collection and treatment, and setting up a scholarship.

Although the Council had to call for a vote, the dispute was over the use of proceeds of the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots as the source of money when the sale is under litigation. The 2020 budget passed with 10 affirmative votes, eight negative and one abstention. Nothing about not having enough for capital outlay and the aid to senior citizens. The reports on the Council action were silent on the possibility of some items not being covered sufficiently.

The Council could have been transparent enough to say what wasn’t a priority, what item could wait for later or for a supplemental budget. Councilors could have pointed that out unless they didn’t want to appear to be inconsiderate of a sector.

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My favorite line in a Christmas song is this: “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

It’s a line from the popular song “Joy to the World”. The verse goes:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing,

And heaven and nature sing,

And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

What’s surprising about this song is that it does not refer to Christ’s birth. It’s about Christ’s death and resurrection.

The song is a collaboration of Isaac Watts, a scholar, George Frederick Handel, a composer, and Lowell Mason who found Watts’s poem of joy and chose the beautiful melody in Handel’s “Messiah” for the music.

Let’s prepare Him room.