Creative revenue raising
There’s practically little choice for Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama except to sign the over P5 billion budget passed by the Cebu City Council rather than sit it out and expect his administration to operate on the same budget for next year.
There is this little rule seldom used in extreme cases when both the chief local executive and the legislature disagree on the budget . If a deadlock results in no budget approval, the local government unit (LGU) will operate on the same budget used in the outgoing year.
That’s not the case for 2014 in Cebu City as had been the case in the past few years of the Rama administration.
For all his tough talk about defending his budget, the mayor has eventually accepted a reduced budget passed by the council and will sign on the dotted line.
Rama had achieved some victories in the soon to end 2013, not least of which is his election triumph over his former patron and mentor Tomas Osmeña.
While the election result is still being contested, Rama went on to propoe his ideal budget amounting to over P10 billion. For the fourth time, the council questioned his revenue sources.
If not for the strong arm tactics of the City Legal Office, the Rama administration wouldn’t have been able to have revenues to promise payment for the rest of the seniors aid assistance, the cash assistance for the persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the scholarship funds.
Despite this, Rama was right to be thankful for small mercies and and not to drag the budget dispute any further. While telling department heads and employees to focus on “super service,” the mayor is expected to focus on selling lots of the South Road Properties (SRP) to raise funds for his budget this year and the next.
Still, what his pet peeve Tomas Osmeña said about letting the value of SRP to grow instead of having a fire sale makes sense. Rama could focus energy as well on selling other vacant lots in the North Reclamation Area and the Waterfront land strip.
If he and his marketing team can do that, rather than be obsessed about selling the SRP, they can have funds for supplemental budgets that they wish to pass for the drainage master plan and the re-mapping of the city’s landscape and coastal and riverine areas to clear the waterways of any illegal structure and settler.
As mayor, Rama should take the lead in finding ways to finance his administration’s goals without having to sell and mortgage prime real estate to speculators.
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