Cebu City Council set to hold series of public hearings for next year’s proposed P50 billion budget

THE Cebu City Council will begin a series of public hearings for the proposed P50 billion budget for next year on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.

This will happen even if the public hearing for the proposed revision of Cebu City’s tax code revision has yet to be concluded. The proposed increase in tax rates is one of the City Government’s eyed sources of revenue to achieve the 2023 budget.

Councilor Noel Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, said on Thursday, Dec. 1 that a marathon public hearing will be held beginning Monday and this will continue for several days until all agendas are covered.

The heads of City Hall’s big departments that have requested huge funds for 2023 are first to appear and defend their requests before the council.

These are the Department of Engineering and Public Works, Department of Public Services, Department of General Services, Cebu City Transportation Office, and the Division for the Welfare of Urban Poor.

Wenceslao did not divulge the requested budget of each department.

During the council’s regular session on Thursday, Councilor Rey Gealon suggested putting the heads or representatives of different City Hall offices under oath while they present and defend their proposed budget.

Gealon said this will make sure that department heads or representatives will provide accurate information.

But according to Wenceslao, this is not necessary since it is only a public hearing and not a court proceeding or investigation.

“I do not think that it is more practicable because we will be the first SP (Sangguniang Panlungsod) in the whole country that will be doing that. This is not an investigation, this is a public hearing,” he said.

If the resource person gives false information, the councilors have the right to slash or disapprove the budget of the resource person’s department, Wenceslao added.

If the proposed P50 billion budget for 2023 is approved, it would dwarf the current budgets of the three richest cities in the country.

The annual budget of Quezon City in the National Capital Region is only P30.5 billion for 2022, according to Ordinance 3063 of the Quezon City Council that enacted it.

According to the Cebu City executive department’s proposal, the P50 billion will be sourced from the General Fund Proper like the National Tax Allotment (P2.74 billion), tax revenues (P44.5 billion), non-tax revenues (P2.1 billion) and shares from the economic zone (P300 million).

Another source of money will be special accounts like the income from the operation of city markets (P108.4 million), local development fund (P548.1 million), income from the city hospital (P180 million) and funding from the General Fund Proper (P773.4 million), among others, for a total of P1.75 billion.