Cebu City wants P20B budget for 2023

THE Cebu City Government will push for a P20 billion budget for 2023 to strengthen the campaign of Mayor Michael Rama’s Singapore-like vision for the city, which means smart, globally competitive and disaster-resilient.

With a 2022 budget of only around P10 billion, doubling the amount will require the City to improve first its revenue collection by revising its tax code which has not been updated since 2006, said Councilor Noel Wenceslao.

Wenceslao, who chairs the committee on budget and finance, told SunStar Cebu Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, that the city’s local finance committee (LFC) is now finalizing the particulars for next year’s budget.

The councilor added that he still has no information on where to get the required amount but the possible scenario of increasing taxes will be among the sources for the 2023 budget.

“One of our sources will be our real property taxes and business taxes, which we will revise. It needs to be increased because the last time we had a revision was in 2006, and as far as the local government code is concerned, we should revise the tax code once every three years,” said Wenceslao.

Wenceslao added that they will submit the tax code’s revision by October for it to be approved by the City Council before the year ends.

He added that other local government units, including the highly urbanized cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, have already increased their taxes.

“We have not had the revision for the past 16 years; we have the lowest taxes. Now, we need to increase because it’s really needed. How do we sustain our services if we don’t increase our sources of funds?” said Wenceslao.

Singapore-like

The councilor further said that by increasing next year’s budget, Rama’s vision for a Singapore-like city will move closer to realization.

This will help fund the campaign of the city government in clearing and recovering the three-meter easement of the city’s major waterways, he said.

Because of the families that will be displaced by the clearing operations, there is a need for a bigger budget to build medium-rise buildings for the city’s socialized housing program, Wenceslao said.

“As we aim to become Singapore-like, we need more budget to sustain our services,” said Wenceslao.

Tax increase

Wenceslao assured taxpayers that the increase will be implemented not in one blow but in a staggered manner.

“I think the effect will be quite big, but then we’ll just not fully implement it next year because we understand that most of the businesses are still recovering, especially the time they had difficulties because of the (Covid-19) pandemic and Typhoon Odette,” he said.

If approved, the City will implement only 60 percent of the increase during the first year, 80 percent in the second year, and 100 percent in the third year.

The executive department is expected to submit the proposed 2023 budget to the City Council on or before Oct. 16, said Wenceslao.

City Hall department heads who submitted their proposed budgets will be invited by the City Council to the budget hearing for the deliberation and scrutiny of their budgets. / IRT