City involves civil society groups in budget preparation

BAGUIO CITY – The city will again involve civil society organizations in the preparation of the budget for 2017.
City budget officer Leticia Clemente said 15 CSOs have been invited to join the department heads and personnel in the the budget forum set on August 5 at the Ridgewood Residence at Lualhati barangay to solicit inputs on improving the city’s development targets for the coming year.
Among those invited were the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation Inc., 911 On Call, Baguio-Benguet Public Information Civic Action Group (BB-PICAG), United Architects of the Philippines Summer Capital, Baguio Center for Young Adults, Philippine Government Retirees Association, Save our Schoolchildren Foundation, Baguio Market Vendors Multi-purpose Cooperative, Councilor the Restoration of Filipino Values and the Children and Family Service Philippines Inc.
This is in compliance with the directive from the national government to ensure “participatory budgeting” or involvement of the private sector through more cost-effective social service delivery to ensure that the needs of the community will be addressed.
The forum serves as the take-off activity in the budget preparation following Mayor Mauricio Domogan’s issuance of the budget call through memorandum circular 2016-1 last July 4.
The forum will consist of three sessions– the first on the mandate, vision, mission, major final output, performance indicators and targets for 2017 will be discussed by city planning and development coordinator Evelyn Cayat; the second on income estimates and sources of income by city treasurer in charge of office Alex Cabarrubias and on budget preparation guidelines, budget ceilings, strategies, thrusts and priorities by Clemente.
In the budget circular prepared by Clemente, six bases aside from the participatory budgeting were cited as framework in the budget preparation.
First, the use of the Public Financial Management Assessment Tool (PFMAT) to evaluate the effectiveness of programs with the goal of providing quality service with the least cost and fund programs beneficial to the people in a cost effective manner.
Budgeting should also be performance-based through the establishment of clear targets for all the plans, programs and activities (PPAs) based on which the performance of the departments will be rated, monitored and evaluated.
Departments are also required to identify, tag and prioritize climate change projects in their budget proposals along with programs on Gender and Development (GAD), senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Local Councils for the Protection of Children.
Programs should also be aligned with the thrusts of the city government and the national government in line with the sustainable development goals of the administration namely:
On economy: Maximize revenues through the proposed revision of the Tax Code and Schedule of Real Property Values; promote e-governance to improve and streamline government transactions covering business permits, tax payments and collection of fees to avail of urban services; and to inventory and classification of investments and business activities as basis to support the core drivers of the economy.
On social services development: Empower the marginalized sector and provide the avenue for them to become more productive members of society; continue construction of public school facilities and teacher development programs; vigilant monitoring and mitigating emerging health challenges; ensure public safety and protection through information technology advances and community-based crime monitoring system.
On the environment: vigorous implementation of the city environment code including all environment related ordinances; pursue and showcase biodiversity in the development of the city’s river systems, parks, forests, watersheds and safeguarded lands; and mainstream at all levels on disaster and climate change management.
On governance: pursue a non-nonsense urban planning process to brush up the city’s land use plan and its implementing zoning ordinance as guide for the city’s development direction; build up the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office as the conduit for the mainstreaming of disaster preparedness and climate change across all sectors of society; implement and monitor more aggressively all infrastructure projects; and strengthen collaboration with the private sector.
As per the budget calendar, the proposed departmental budgets should be submitted to the local finance committee on August 15 and will be subjected to hearings from August 16-24 and three days after each hearing, the department should submit the final version.
The budget estimates will be finalized from Sept.1 to 30 and approved by the mayor by October 1 for submission to the city council on October 14. **Aileen P. Refuerzo

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