Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Maya tries to rebut DBM findings on city hall overspending

CAGAYAN de Oro Councilor Maryanne Enteria on Saturday criticized the budget department, describing its call on city hall to go slow on its spendings as ‘‘unfair.’’

The department’s call ‘‘is not fair to the city since there is no legal basis," Enteria said.

Enteria referred to the result of the review of the Department of Budget and Management which thumbed down city hall’s 2006 budget because of ‘‘excess in expenditures.’’

In a gist, the DBM’s findings show that city hall plans to spend more than what it would earn this year. Also, the budget does not jibe with the city government’s internal revenue allotment (IRA), the department said.

Enteria, an ally of Mayor Vicente Emano, said the finding that city hall was bound to overspend based on the 2006 budget ‘‘is purely [an] observation and projection.’’

"That’s not true,’’ said Enteria. ‘‘DBM’s assessments are mostly projections. They just give an estimated amount."

Enteria also said it would be ‘‘too early’’ for DBM to conclude that the budget approved by the city council for this year is illegal.

The councilor, a lawyer by profession, also questioned the basis for the DBM’s rejection of the granting of personnel economic relief allowances (Pera) to city hall’s non-regular employees.

The 2006 budget of city hall shows a P96 thousand excess in the Pera, said DBM.
The department disallowed the granting of the Pera to Emano, Vice Mayor Michelle Spiers and the councilors.

Budget Circular No. 12 dated April 7, 1997 provides the updated rules and regulations on the grant of Pera. It is based on the General Provisions of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The GAA General provisions states that the Pera is to be given to "all appointive national and local government employees occupying itemized plantilla positions."

Since the law explicitly specified "appointive" officials, those elected are not entitled to the Pera, the DBM said.

Enteria argued that any excess in the budget, especially on the personnel services, ‘‘can be justified since allowances and bonuses given to employees are within the mandate of the law.’’

Enteria said allowances and other perks, while set by law, can be augmented by way of an Executive Order from Malacañang. She said the Palace has issued a dozen EOs in the previous years.

Enteria said city budget officer Creselda Joson assured that no new expenditure was added to city hall’s personnel services fund. The fund set aside for this in the 2006 budget is P476,496,119.

According to Enteria, the city budget office would disallow the creation of new city hall positions this year to comply with government budget regulations on fixed expenditures ceiling.

Enteria said city hall’s technical working group, composed of officials from the budget, finance and accounting offices, cited a law that states that any excess in the budget could only be determined at the end of the year.

"We’ve just ended our second quarter and we’re about to start the third quarter... we can’t make conclusions [in regard to] excess allocations," she said.

It was DBM director for northern Mindanao Romeo Melad who called the attention of Mayor Emano in regard to "excess in expenditures" in city hall’s 2006 budget.

City hall’s 2006 budget simply exceeded government guidelines, according to Melad.
The DBM earlier thumbed down the granting of incentives to some 2,588 city hall employees. It said to do so would be illegal.

"The same cannot be allowed for lack of legal basis and considering that there is an excess in the personnel services limitation," Melad said in a letter, a copy of which was furnished Gold Star Daily.

In the 2006 budget, city hall set aside bonuses amounting to P15,528,000 for all regular and casual employees.

But in the letter, dated March 6, the DBM said city hall has been overspending for salaries, way above a 45-percent ceiling.

In 2004, city hall had an income of P874,989,478.73. Forty-five percent of this––P393,745,265.43––is the salary cap.

City hall however set aside P476,496,119 for personnel services in the 2006 budget or P82,750,853.57 above the salary cap.

Melad said the budget for the City Economic and Enterprise Department (CEED) alone exceeded by over P10 million. The CEED is the department that handles the operations of the city’s public markets and terminals.

Melad also called Emano’s attention in regard to his P9-million intelligence fund. He asked the mayor to go slow on the fund. The intelligence fund is not subject to strict auditing and can be used at the local executive’s discretion.

"[Budget officer] Joson assured that Mayor Emano has complied with all auditing rules in disbursing his intelligence fund," Enteria said.

The DBM also called city hall’s attention in regard to its budget for representation and traveling allowances (Rata) which it said exceeded by P1,378,000.

"can be read at Gold Star Daily>Link

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