BORONGAN CITY, June 13, 2018–“There is no approved budget for 2018”.
This was the answer of majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan when asked about the status of the annual budget.
“The reason why there is no annual budget of the province for 2018 is because we don’t have an approved Annual Investment Plan for 2018,” SP Member Celestino Cabato said during a presscon last week. “There can be no budget if the AIP is not approved,” he added.
The AIP is a consolidated development plan of a local government unit. It identifies priority projects and programs to be appropriated in the annual budget. Included in the AIP is a DILG approved GAD plan and budget, a disaster risk reduction management plan, a climate change plan, and peace and order and public safety plan.
Cabato said that during the January 5, 2018 session, they “passed a resolution approving in principle the AIP for 2018, subject to the condition that the Provincial Development Council resolution adapting the AIP, signed by the members must be complied with” and “that the amendments suggested by the body during the pre-session last December, including other documents must be submitted and therafter, the said resolution after submission of the complete documents shall be considered as approved in its absolute terms”.
Until now, this has not been fully complied, despite being promised that the documents will be submitted in three days, Cabato said.
The lawmakers said that some of those who signed the PDC resolution are not the authorized signatories. They allege that some of the documents submitted were falsified, pointing out specifically the peace and public safety plan.
The province is operating on a reenacted budget. “In the absence of an approved budget, only the annual appropriation for salaries and wages of existing positions, statutory and contractual obligations and essential operating expenses authorized in the annual and supplemental budgets for the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted,” Cabato said.
With regards to the salary increase of provincial government employees, Board Member Byron Suyot said that the governor is “authorized to implement the increase since they approved an appropriation in 2017 for the second tranche salary increase”.
The board members say they are not to blame for the non approval of the budget. “We are not a hindrance of the progress of Eastern Samar, we are supportive of the programs and projects but it must be in accordance with government procedures”.
Still, they are prepared to act on the budget. Board Member Suyot said that “if they comply with the AIP, we will talk about the budget, we will re-deliberate on the budget per office”. (Eden Cidro/Este News)