Baguio okays P18.1 Million for urgent city projects

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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on third reading a proposed ordinance that seeks to revert to the general fund the amount of P18.1 million savings from the P20 million subsidy to public utility drivers in the city and appropriating the same amount to fund the various projects and activities that are deemed urgent and necessary.

The council stated the projects and activities deemed urgent and necessary include the purchase of thermoplastic paints and accessories for bicycle lanes – P4,325,000.00; purchase of two sets of thermoplastic paint machines and two sets road marking removers – P2,089,00.00; construction of bridge connecting Maya and Agila Streets at Dizon Subdivision barangay – P3,959,080.00; international standard road signs and symbols – P6,809,920.00 and electric system at the city’s temporary waste transfer station along Marcos highway – P955,000.00

Earlier, the council approved ordinance No. 39, series of 2020, reverting to the city’s general fund the amount of P150 million from savings of the various development projects and appropriating the same amount for measures and programs of the city government to deal with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in the city.

The council noted that part of the programmed measures and programs was the P20 million supposed to be used for the subsidy of jeepney drivers who were allowed to serve the transportation requirements of the commuting public when the city was downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) from May 16-31, 2020.

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However, City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña, in his letter to the dated June 19, 2020 addressed to the city council, admitted only P1.86 million was utilized by the city for the subsidy of the jeepney drivers that served the transportation requirements of the public during the GCQ period, thus, the savings of some P18.1 million from the allocated funds.

The city administrator subsequently requested the intervention of the city council to revert the aforesaid savings from the stimulus GCQ subsidy fund and appropriate the same amount to fund the identified projects and activities deemed urgent and necessary by the executive department.

According to him, the city was constrained to discontinue the subsidy for jeepney drivers when the city’s status was eventually downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) from June 16, 2020 to date because the same is no longer allowed under existing guidelines as there was already a significant increase in the number of public utility vehicles that were allowed to operate in the city and neighboring towns of Benguet.

The council also reverted to the general fund some P100 million from the city’s COVID-19 operations fund primarily to be used for the city government’s stimulus package for micro and small businesses heavily impacted by the implementation of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the deadly virus in the different parts of the country.

The council pointed out the city finance committee must make sure there will be available funds to sustain the city’s COVID-19 operations so that the executive department will not always seek the reversion of funds from previous programmed projects to intensify its campaign to prevent the spread of the virus in the city.

By Dexter A. See

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