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Fiscal transparency

Among the items listed in  payables submitted by the Provincial Treasurer’s Office were  P68 million for  air-conditioned buses for the Capitol’s Suroy-Suroy tourism program,  P13 million for  outsourced personnel and  P60 million for cash incentives of barangay health workers.

In its report, the treasurer’s office said the province has P90 million in cash of which P50 million is promised for  Christmas bonuses of the Capitol employees.  It’s eash to see which items will be prioritized by acting Gov. Agnes Magpale.

The public disclosure of the Capitol’s Dec. 26  cash report doesnt’ say the province is bankrupt. That word wasn’t used  by the treasurer or Magpale because assets like property, bank savings and a whopping P235 million  slew of trust funds keep it  wealthy.

What the figures — and the flurry of bills — show offhand is that cash flow isn’t enough to pay all obligations at once.

The report is an indicator of fiscal management, not inherent weatlh.

One  big revelation is that major items like P13.9 milllion still to be paid  for outsourced services of doctors, nurses and janitors in district hospitals and the Capitol along with other major facilities like the Cebu International Convention Center remains unpaid.  The bill covers services from January to November.

Why was payment held off so long?

Unpaid food catering bills, all to the account of the Governor’s Office,  dated back to 2010.

The cash report raises a  puzzling question, why does the “richest province” in the country not have enough cash at yearend  to meet payables of vital services like medical staff of district hospitals in the rural areas?    What kind of banquets and meals were being served and who were feeding from the public trough?

As one  consequence, the 13th month pay of over  700 unfortunate oursourced personnel has been been held back, said the agency, although the Labor Code clearly requires the employer agency to  give the 13th month pay to its workers.

For the first time in the eight-year Garcia administration, the scale of expenses and priorities of  the mighty office, which were only hinted of in the quick check payments of P98.9 million for the purchase of underwater Balili lots in 2008, is being given a hard look.

Now  even members of the Provincial Board, who are  supposed to approve all contracts but didn’t  get to see them before, can exercise their true check-and-balance function.

It will be educational to see what surfaces as Magpale conducts what she promises will be management of the Capitol with “transparency and accountability.”

By all means, proceed, madame.

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