Probe sought on unused P3.6 billion city fund

(File photo)


Minority councilor Peter Q. Maristela on Monday asked the city government to explain a reported P3.6 billion in unused project funds by the city treasurer’s office (CTO).

Maristela said the amount came to his knowledge after last week’s budget hearing, where they were told about it by a CTO representative.

“Nabanggit sa amin ng ating City Treasurer’s Office na mayroong nakabinbin ngayon o naka-tengga na pera ‘yong city government na three billion pesos ha. Three billion na intended para sa mga projects ng city government na na-appropriate na ‘yan pero hindi nagagamit, hindi pa nasisimulan ‘yong mga proyekto,” Maristela stated.

Maristela added the amount does not even include the special educational and trust funds. If included, the total city government fund would be around P3.6 billion.

The CTO reportedly said the amount was as of October 31, 2018.

To be invited in the session of the city council are the city administrator, accountant, budget officer, head of the bids and awards committee (BAC), representatives from the engineering office, planning office, and again, the CTO.

Maristela further stated the amount was intended for the funding of projects that date as far back as 2016, last year, and this year.

“Kung paano nangyari ito, ano ba itong mga projects na ito na pinondohan na? Ang masakit pa doon hindi lang ‘yong projects para sa 2018, meron pang 2017, at meron pang partly 2016 na project na hindi pa nagagawa. Kaya nga nire-request natin ‘yan sa question and answer hour na malaman natin ano ba ‘yong mga projects na ‘yan [at] ano ba ‘yong mga dahilan?” said Maristela.

Maristela reiterated it was due to this that the city government was not awarded the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) this year.

He explained the city council finally decided to call these department heads during the regular session on December 3.

“Kaya nga hindi tayo nakakuha ng Seal of Good Governance ngayong 2018 kasi hindi lumampas ng 50 percent ‘yong na-implement nating project, hindi lumampas sa 20 percent ‘yong na-appropriate na nagawa nating mga proyekto based sa appropriation natin, kaya hindi tayo nakasama sa Seal of Good Governance samantalang nakasama tayo diyan last year, nakakapanghinayang,” said Maristela.

Reacting to this, city administrator Arnel Pedrosa contradicted the amount, saying it is definitely less than P3.6 billion.

“Mali ang mga figures niya. Totoo na may mga pondo pa tayo, pero hindi aabot ng P3.6 billion. Less than that amount ‘yon. Hindi ako masyadong well-versed sa detalye, pero masasabi ko na hindi ganyan ang amount,” Pedrosa said.

He said the amount remaining in the bank had already been reappropriated under a supplemental budget that was approved by the city council in September.

Pedrosa also denied that the projects under the supplemental budget were not implemented above expected.

“Kung di ako nagkakamali, na-approve ‘yong budget under Supplemental Budget No. 1 or No. 2 last September lang na nasa P500 million to P1 billion. Totoo naman na may di na-implement na projects kasi wala nang tatanggap kahit ipa-bid pa dahil hindi na akma ang mga presyo na meron sa programs of work nila. Nagbago na ang minimum wage ng labor, ‘yong mga presyo ng materyales nagbago na rin from 2015-2016,” he explained.

If some projects were not implemented in 2017, he said that was because of the political problem that Mayor Lucilo Bayron had faced.

He said he will be attending on Monday to clarify Maristela’s apprehensions, and assured that the leadership of the city wants nothing but to implement the projects that have been identified in the approved supplemental budget.

“Wag silang mag-alala, andyan naman lahat ng pondo at may pinaglalaanan, ‘yong iba nangangailangan lang ng bagong programs of work dahil di na practical ngayon kahit i-bid pa. Wala nang tatanggap,” he said.

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