What good is your money if you can’t spend it?
This is the predicament of the City of Dumaguete, which does not yet have a budget to work with, after the Sangguniang Panlunsod returned its proposed Annual Investment Plan to the City Development Council.
The Sanggunian returned the AIP for a second time after the CDC failed to respond to the recommendations of the Sanggunian to include certain items in the budget for the City.
How times have changed. While the City Mayor had no problem getting his way with the Sangguniang Panlunsod in his first and second terms, he now has to deal with a growing opposition in the Council with the recent reorganization of the Association of Barangay Councils, and that of the Sangguniang Kabataan federation.
Now, the City Development Council has to meet again in full session to discuss and approve the AIP. They may approve or disapprove of the suggestions of the City Councilors in the budget, but clearly, the legislators simply need an official answer.
The executive and legislative branches are now blaming each other for the delay in the approval of the budget. The Sanggunian says the Mayor only completed the AIP in October, or four months past the June deadline. That gave the Councilors little time to review the budget, which took them until December.
The Mayor, on the other hand, says the matter would have been easily addressed if the Councilors had “good intentions”. Besides, he says, the City Council does not even have the power to revise the budget.
Both the Sanggunian and the Mayor believe they are in the right. But the ball is now in the hands of the Mayor.
If neither side would take action on the budget, the City will have a re-enacted budget by March.
A re-enacted budget will not have money for the programs intended for 2024, and will thus, have a lot of political implications.
How this pans out is anybody’s guess. But with elections coming next year already in 2025, they had better have something to show that they deserve the people’s votes.