Mayor praised anew for keeping Baguio’s COVID-19 expenses low

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Mayor Benjamin Magalong was credited anew for saving the city’s budget from being wiped out by the cost of fighting the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias said the city’s coffers could have been easily depleted by the expenses incurred in maintaining the control measures against the virus like testing, personal protective equipment, quarantine and isolation facilities, relief goods and other vital equipment were it not for the diligence of the mayor in working out donations from the national government and private individuals.

He said the city had also spent some of its funds for the pandemic but this did not reach the actual cost required.

“Our financial position would have been very different if all the expenses related to the pandemic had been charged to the account of the city.  The amount spent for these could have been ten-fold of what we spent and would have depleted our financial resources but thankfully, these were and still largely funded by the national government and donations from many generous private benefactors.  However this would not have been possible if not for the persevering efforts of our city mayor,” Cabarrubias said. The city treasurer said that the despite incurring a shortfall in collection, the city realized some surplus funds which can be readily tapped for the city’s programs including those addressing the pandemic.

He said the city remains to be “very financially liquid” but that it has to continue implementing belt-tightening and austerity measures to tide it over the continuing economic slump caused by the health crisis.

He said the city government will feel the brunt of the economic crunch in its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share by 2023.

He said that at present, the city needs to prioritize its activities and projects to those that have immediate and direct impact on stopping the spread of COVID-19 to enable it to continue reopening businesses and to projects that “that bring instant return of investment” to keep the economy afloat.

Cabarrubias said that as of March 14, the city has achieved 32 percent of its target income collection both from internal and external revenue sources by collecting a total of P608,767,000 out of its target of P1,904,000,000. – Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO Baguio

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