BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The P2.6 billion budget for 2021, down by at least P400 million compared to the 2020 one, is only around three hearings away from approval by the council here, the chair of the finance and appropriations committee told DNX.
Councilor Cindy Rojas described the budget as “COVID response-centered with an eye for the new normal” that was submitted by Mayor Evelio Leonardia built around future scenarios like the possible purchase of anti-COVID vaccines next year and a mini stimulus program through government infra spending that is hoped to provide a stimulus for the local economy.
Of the total allocation spread out to more than 50 departments of City Hall, the City Mayor’s Office has the highest allocation of close to P1 billion, Rojas said.
She added three other “key departments” in the anti-COVID campaign have either carry-over or similar budgetary allocations for next year or have slightly reduced allocations.
Rojas, however, did not provide documents to DNX when requested to provide the draft of the 2021 budget ordinance.
“The final allocations are still being finalized,” she said.
She did provide limited details like the following:
- The City Mayor’s Office has the highest allocation of close to P1 billion;
- Among the line departments, the City Health Office gets the highest allocation at around P200 million followed by the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, education, and the social welfare department;
- A “significant amount” was also allocated for local infrastructure projects under the City Engineer’s Office; and
- Expenses for personnel, property, plant, equipment, travel, and trainings were slashed.
Rojas said the budget for the Mayor’s Office is justified as there are numerous departments under it.
Expenditures under it also include donations, she added.
Rojas said her committee had wrapped up hearings for the budget and she is expected to submit her committee report this week to the regular session of the city council after which it would be submitted to the plenary or the entire council that will vote for its approval.