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Mayor rejects cuts in city budget; makes ‘partial veto’ for 2012

/ 08:36 AM December 31, 2011

Cebu City enters the new year with a disputed 2012 budget that was approved with a “partial veto” by Mayor Michael Rama.

It’s the first time a city mayor has resorted to this action.

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In his note to the City Council on Thursday, the mayor beat a Dec. 31 deadline to approve the P5.2- billion budget but said he was rejecting items that were either reduced or deleted by the legislature.

This includes a proposed P500-million outlay for drainage system improvement, of which the council approved about P200 million.

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The spate of flooding in urban zones and mountain barangays has focused new attention on Cebu City’s calamity-prone areas and unpredictable weather patterns affected by climate change.

Other items scrapped from the mayor’s original P11.8-billion budget proposal were P50 million for firefighting equipment and upgraded fire stations.

The City Council can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.

If this happens, the enacted budget, which Mayor Rama called “anti-poor,” will stand.

“The mayor issued a partial veto on two grounds—the action of the council was already beyond their power and the reduction of the budget was prejudicial to the general welfare,” said city administrator Jose Marie Poblete.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said budget items deleted or reduced may be restored later in the year when additional funding is available.

“I can call for a special session to act on the mayor’s letter but I first have to read it,” he told Cebu Daily News.

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In an earlier interview, the vice mayor said the council was ready to override the veto.

What Mayor Rama approved in the budget ordinance was appropriations for salaries, supplies and payment of obligations among others.

He questioned how his administration’s proposed 2012 budget was slashed by more than half.

He said the P5.2-billion budget leftover was “anti-poor” and “compromised” important projects.

Aside from a reduced outlay for drainage improvement, items that were scrapped altogether include P120 million for construction of new buildings to house City Hall offices that are renting commercial office space, P50 million for a barge to use in rescue operations and P20 million for police vehicles.

Cebu Daily News reported this week that P50 million intended to upgrade equipment and vehicles of the City Fire Department’s aging fleet of 10 fire trucks was also scrapped.

Mayor Rama’s proposed P40-million bailout fund to help City Hall employees get out of existing debt was another initiative rejected by the council.

“These are not mine but for the people of Cebu City,” said Rama.

If the City Council decides to override the veto, the mayor’s veto letter will be attached to the budget ordinance sent to the Department of Budget and Management for review.

“We hope this will be included in the DBM’s review,”  said Poblete.

Budget deliberations this year highlighted the mayor’s strained relations with the council.

Poblete said the important thing is that Cebu City has a new budget for 2012 and didn’t have to fall back on a reenacted budget of the present P4.5-billion budget of 2011.

He said Mayor Rama agreed with city lawyers, who include Department for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) Collin Rosell and assistant city administrator Dominic Dino, that the City Council exceeded its powers when it slashed the proposed P11.8 billion by more than half.

They also questioned the council’s requirement that lump sum appropriations secure council approval.

“Who determines what are the priorities—the executive or the legislative? Sila nay nagbuot, which  to cut or delete, pila gamiton sa atong operations,” said Poblete. /Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac

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TAGS: 2012 budget, Cebu City, Michael Rama
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