IT HAS been a week since the Cebu City Council committee of a whole started the budget hearing for the proposed 2021 budget, but some members find the proposed expenditures not “pandemic responsive.”
This, after the City Council approved a resolution last October asking the executive department to make sure next year’s proposed budget of P10.8 billion should focus on “urgent priorities such as health, economic recovery, aid and education, among others” to mitigate effects of the coronavirus health crisis.
City Councilor Alvin Dizon, who authored the resolution, said the City should prioritize programs that would help it recover from the pandemic instead of proposing infrastructure projects.
He said proposed expenditures such as travel expenses and purchase of motor vehicles should also be reevaluated.
“The executive department should reassess, review the proposed expenditure programs because there are some unnecessary budgetary items that are not needed right now,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama echoed Dizon’s sentiment.
Rama said the proposed budget will have to be trimmed.
“Slashing is the word. That is the name of the game,” he said, adding that expenditures should also focus on flood preventive measures, food production and social services, among others.
Rama said now is not the time to build new buildings.
City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia said big chunks of the proposed 2021 budget are intended for health.
“The increase of the budget, if you compare it to last year, the increase are all in the health department and emergency response... which are responsive gihapon sa (to the) pandemic,” he said.
But as chairman of the committee on budget and finance, Garcia said he will adhere to and consider some of the councilors’ suggestions.
The committee of a whole will continue the budget hearing on Monday. Dec. 7. (JJL)