Budget hagglingCebu Daily News
It’s that time of year again when Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and the Cebu City Council talk about the annual budget and how much would actually be set aside to spend for Cebu City’s lengthy list of necessities for next year.
Remember how Rama and his department heads staged a walkout that caught the council off guard in last year’s budget deliberations?
After much wrangling, Rama’s original proposed P11 billion budget was trimmed to P10 billion budget only to be cut down by half by an uncompromising council.
Both camps eventually had to produce again, a skin-and-bones budget intended for this year.
How did Cebu City fare with a P5.2 billion budget?
If the council were to be believed, Rama and his officials not only failed to meet revenue targets for the P5.2 billion budget for this year, they failed to spend the rest of the funds allocated for various departments.
Despite this, the mayor held a public consultation that allowed various sectors to make their own proposals or “wish lists”.
These were later consolidated into a P13 billion budget proposal by City Hall finance officials or P1.2 billion higher than Rama’s P11.8 billion budget proposed for the next fiscal year.
Anyone with a fear of or a disdain of numbers would be swamped by the Rama administration’s proposed allocations for each department and projects. It is the council’s unenviable task to sort out the “wish list” and come up with what they consider a more realistic budget.
Each camp has its justifications for drafting a budget a particular way.
But one has to agree with the council’s position, however slanted it is in favor of its patron, Rep. Tomas Osmeña, that a budget rests on a realistic expectation of revenue targets.
By that same token, Rama should do his part in making sure his administration maximizes resources by spending every peso wisely with concrete results.
They should avoid the temptation of asking for more when there are still funds at their disposal, waiting to be spent for their intended use.
That, however, doesn’t give the council license to be stingy in spending taxpayers funds for essential projects like road widening and better drainage just because they don’t conform to Osmeña’s agenda.
Budget deliberations will be a protracted debate tainted with grandstanding because of the election season ahead.
Still, we hope both camps can rise above their differences and deliver a budget that meets the needs of Cebuanos in a fair and realistic manner.
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