Baguio’s 2022 budget to be focused on economic recovery, resilience

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The City Budget Office disclosed that the local government’s plan and budget preparations for next year will be geared towards economic recovery and resilience for the city to be able to allow the revival of the heavily devastated local economy due to the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

City Budget Officer Leticia O. Clemente stated that next month is the start of the budget preparation activities for 2022, thus, the local government plans to prepare a budget that considers the new normal after the ongoing pandemic.

She added that the city is also anticipating a change and re-structuring of the organization and services are more functions are expected to be devolved by the national government as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in the famous Mandanas case.

“We welcome the increase in the national tax allocation (NATA), formerly the internal revenue allotment (IRA), of local governments by at least 56.79 percent. However, we are not certain whether the increase can cover all the requirements of the functions to be devolved. We were told that the guidelines is still for the approval of the Office of the President and is expected to be out before we start our budget preparation,” Clemente stressed.

The city budget officer pointed out that definitely, belt tightening policies will continue in the upcoming budget preparation but despite the rigid financial challenges, the same should not stifle innovation and creativity for as long as prudence is exercised in the process.

According to her, with all these changes happening, it is time for reflection on what has been, how the pandemic has changed the lives of the people in many sectors and it is the opportune time to collectively develop better frameworks and re-structure the city’s programs, projects and activities to keep them attune to current situation and anticipates the future.

Clemente pointed out that also next year is also significant as the term of office of national and local leaders end but the plans and budget for the incoming year is deliberated and approved this year.

She emphasized that local officials and employees continue to work in unison of purpose and stay focused on how to make life better for the city’s residents as after all leaders may come and go, but the government and the services it provides are here to stay.

Clemente encouraged all the departments of the local government to review their plans and programs for the upcoming budget preparation activities for 2022 in consideration of the possible changes so that the city’s budget will be attune to the new normal.

Under the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local government code of the Philippines, local chief executives are mandated to submit to the Sanggunian concerned the proposed annual budgets of provinces, cities and municipalities on or before October 16 of the preceding year for the conduct of the required deliberations prior to approval of the same.

If the budget for the upcoming year will not be passed before the end of the preceding year, the Sanggunian concerned has a maximum of 90 days to approve the same or else the local government concerned will be operating on a re-enacted budget after the said period.

By Dexter A. See
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis

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