By Dhel Nazario
Makati City’s budget for 2019 has been declared “inoperative in its entirety effective immediately” by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) after it was found to have “not complied with the budgetary requirements, as well as other provisions of law”.
This was stated by the DBM in a letter dated March 14, signed by Director Ruby Muro. Makati’s 2019 budget was belatedly revised and approved by the opposition bloc in the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
The DBM noted that in the city council’s budget, the “total appropriations exceed the estimates of income” by P1.37 million, which is not in accordance with Section 324 (a) of R.A. No. 7160 and Local Budget Circular No. 112 dated June 10, 2016 (Budget Operations Manual for LGUs). The said provision under the Local Government Code (RA 7160) requires that “the aggregate amount appropriated shall not exceed the estimates of income.”
The DBM also observed that the appropriations provided for some programs, projects and activities in the City Ordinance were “higher than the amounts reflected in the approved Annual Investment Program (AIP).”
The councilors allotted an amended budget of P52,568,300 to Volunteer Management System, which exceeded its approved AIP amount of P2,921,300 by P49,647,000. Similarly, the revised DRRM Awards budget of P40,558,794 surpassed its AIP amount by P22,070,794.
The councilors’ revised budget likewise failed to comply with the laws governing the use of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF), which require a 30-percent allocation for Quick Response Fund (QRF).
As a consequence, there was a deficiency amounting to P841,806 for QRF, and a corresponding excess budget of the same amount for Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Fund (DPMF).
As a result of the defects in the revised budget, more than 10,000 city government employees were not able to receive the increase in their salaries.
Under the rules of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the granting of salary increase, remuneration or privilege to government workers will be strictly prohibited during the campaign period.
The defects and inconsistencies noted by the DBM were the same items cited by Mayor Abigail Binay in her veto message to the city budget revised and passed by the opposition councilors. However, the same councilors chose to disregard these defects and mistakes, and insisted on passing their version of the budget.
“The amended budget of the opposition bloc of the Sanggunian is inconsistent with existing laws, grossly disproportionate and does not promote equitable distribution of the city’s resources. It is unfortunate that the opposition councilors have remained blind to the errors and glaring inequality that they have caused, and again missed the opportunity to rectify the disservice they have done to the people of Makati,” Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo said.