ZAMBOANGA CITY — Minority members of the City Council said they will question the approved PHP4.1 billion 2019 budget before the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
One of the minority councilors, Rodolfo Lim, described as "whimsical" the 2019 budget approved by the legislative body on Friday, October 19.
“They (majority) have the numbers that’s why the budget was approved,” said Lim, chairperson of the Council Committee on Education.
For instance, Lim said “there are a lot of items” indicated in the approved budget that are not needed by the city government and with “questionable prices.”
This was countered by Councilor Rommel Agan, chairperson of the Committee on Appropriations, who said the minority's claims are premature and bereft of bases.
Agan added that it was preposterous to alleged any overpricing in the budget because the amount reflected in the allocation is not actually the amount that will be used during the actual procurement.
“It’s unfortunate that they (minority members), who have long been in government, do not know budgeting process,” he said.
Lim added that the budget is riddled by expenditures that are inconsistent with the actual needs of the public. He cited the PHP6 million allocation for the purchase one a mobile kitchen and mobile portable toilet — also priced at PHP6 million — to be used in case of disaster.
“The budget is whimsical because there are a lot of items that have no basis or not needed (by the city government),” he added.
He said a community kitchen can be established in every barangay as what the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) “is doing in times of calamities.”
“Don’t tell me they will let the people affected by the calamity not to eat yet because they have to wait for the mobile kitchen to arrive,” Lim said.
Councilor Miguel Alavar III, another member of the minority bloc, said he could not picture out "what kind of mobile kitchen they (majoriy) wanted to buy” since the PHP6 million allocation is sufficent to put up a restaurant.”
Alavar belongs to the family that owns and manages the known Alavar’s Seafood Restaurant here.
Alavar and Councilor Marxander Jaime Cabato, another minoroity member, clarified they did not oppose the approval of the entire budget “except for items that are questionable.”
“It is our obligation to scrutinize the budget because this is people’s money,” Alavar added.
Among the items in the budget being questioned by the minority members of the City Council are: the allocation of PHP1.5 million to purchase of two military-type drones; purchase of 15 units mini-bus at PHP6 million each; purchase of emergency tents at PHP30,000 each; and, the purchase of digital whiteboards at PHP40,000 each.
Agan and his colleagues in the majority appealed to the minority bloc not to question the budget prematurely, and instead "scrutinize it during the actual procurement."
Agan described the 2019 budget as “very transparent, pro-poor and pro-people compared to previous years, stressing that no sector is left out, from agriculture to infrastructures, social services and traffic.
“This is a balanced budget where everything is sufficiently addressed,” Agan added. (PNA)