The Finance and Appropriations committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental yesterday concluded its hearings on the proposed 2013 budget, after almost four months.
Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr., Finance committee chairman, yesterday said it took them 27 budget hearings since January to complete the committee report, after it was disapproved by the provincial council on first reading in December last year .
When Escalante presented the committee report for adoption by the SP, it met opposition from some board members, who said it was just submitted to them during the regular session.
This prompted Escalante to withdraw the motion for SP to adopt the committee report, also in compliance with the request of other board members to study it before its presentation at the regular SP session next week.
Board Member Miller Serondo, a member of the Finance committee, questioned the commitment of some board members in the deliberations and passage of the 2013 budget.
Serondo said there had been enough time to review the budget before it was presented to the SP last year for approval. However, he added, some board members did not attend the deliberations.
It was presented during its first reading, however, he said it was disapproved outright without any discussions.
“Where's the commitment they are talking about?” Serondo asked.
Members of the majority in the SP, allies of Vice Gov. Genaro Alvarez, had refused to approve the budget in December, until allocations are specified. That caused the budget to be sent back to the Finance Committee for further review.
Board Member Nehemias de la Cruz reminded Board Member Patrick Lacson that he was always absent when the budget deliberations were taking place last year. “Let's not talk about campaigning because this is the holy hall of the people”, he told Lacson.
“I suggest that you always be present (during budget deliberations) so that this problem of ours, especially the employees, can be given justice,” de la Cruz further told Lacson.
Lacson replied that he is committed to pass the annual budget.
Escalante said the Finance committee members will meet again to finalize the report, and thresh out any need for clarifications. “In the name of transparency, the committee will give ample time to each member to study the report,” he said.*GPB