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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo provincial government will operate on a reenacted budget next year as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has no time left to pass the 2010 executive budget before 2009 ends.

Board Member Arthur R. Defensor Jr., vice chair of the committee on appropriations, said the extra bonus and allowances of volunteer health workers (VHW) consumed the time of the SP the past weeks.

Defensor said the SP cannot hold sessions and hearings on the 2010 budget in the remaining days of 2009.

The SP held marathon hearings the whole month of December to rush the passage of two supplemental budgets and a budget augmentation for the VHWs’ honorarium and the P50,000 cash gift of capitol regular and casual employees.

The provincial board held its last session for the year December 21 wherein the appropriation ordinance for the VHWs’ allowances was enacted.

The executive department of the Iloilo provincial government is proposing to spend more than P1 billion next year.

In 2008, the provincial government also reenacted the 2007 budget after the Department of Budget and Management declared the twin appropriation ordinances passed by the SP as inoperative.

The office of Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. pegged the executive budget for 2010 at P1.3 billion.

A total of P1.375 million was set aside for the province’s Annual Investment Program (AIP) next year which will be funded from the 20% Internal Revenue Allocation Development Fund, general fund and other funding sources of the province.

The AIP serves as the blueprint for the programs and projects of the provincial government. It mainly covers five sectors: general public services, social services, economic services, institutional services and other services such as infrastructures.

Based on the breakdown furnished by the executive department, a total of P590.68 million was allocated for personal services which includes salaries and other benefits of provincial capitol workers.

A total of P342.1 million was set aside for the Capitol’s monthly operating and other expenses while P30.065 million was allocated for capital outlay.

At least P230,098,570 was allocated for the 20% development projects while aids to barangays amounted to P1.721 million.

A total of P20 million was set aside for loan amortization and P65 million for the 5% calamity fund.

The budget for election reserve is pegged at P3 million while the allocation for terminal pays amounted to P17,328,739.

The 2010 budget has been referred to the committee on appropriations for deliberations last October 15, 2009.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo provincial government will not refund the P23.2-million financial assistance to 11,659 volunteer health workers last year.

In an interview with weekly cable TV show Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta last Sunday, Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada said they are banking on a Supreme Court decision on a case similar to that of the volunteer health workers in the province.

Citing the SC decision, Mejorada said the health workers will not be compelled to refund the assistance “because it was given to them on good faith.”

“The provincial government acted on good faith in giving the assistance. Governor Niel Tupas Sr. did not pocket the money unlike what other people want to imply,” Mejorada said.

The Commission on Audit (CoA) directed the provincial government to refund the P23.2 million financial aid for lack of legal basis.

The CoA said in its 2008 annual audit report that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) declared as inoperative the appropriation ordinance for the said grant.

The grants were given to the volunteer health workers December 2008 after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Supplemental Budget No. 1 per Appropriation Ordinance Np. 2008-08.

But the DBM declared the grant inoperative as the provincial government was operating on a reenacted budget. Since there was no annual budget, the SP cannot pass a supplemental budget.

Meanwhile, the CoA also directed the provincial government to refund the P71-million extra cash gift given to Capitol employees December 2008.

The audit agency said the extra cash gift exceeded the Personal Services cap or limit of the capitol budget amounting to P118.5 million.

The Local Government Code of 1991 provides that personal services or salaries and benefits for employees of a local government unit should not exceed 45% of its annual budget.

The CoA said the allowable PS level of the capitol is P380.1 million. But Capitol disbursement for PS in 2008 including the extra cash gift amounted to P546.4 million.

The next PS cost incurred in 2008 totaled P427.6 million, which is already P47.48 million over the PS cap, the CoA report said.

Mejorada said their own computation showed that they only exceeded 8% of the cap amounting to P8 million.

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