The provincial government of Negros Occidental has a total of P160 million in unrestricted funds, Provincial Budget Officer Jose Percival Salado said.
Salado, however, said yesterday that the unrestricted funds have been earmarked as sources of the supplemental budgets for the soon-to-open Sipalay hospital, the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, and additional work in other satellite hospitals and procurement, that have not been paid yet, as well as bonuses.
He also said the P111 million savings last year, that form part of the unrestricted funds, come from the P829 million general fund, P44 million from the Economic Enterprise Development Department, and P5 million from the P1.8 billion Internal Revenue Allotment of the province for 2013.
Some officials have asked why the provincial government should secure a P180 million loan if it has P1.6 billion in bank deposits.
Vice-Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said “We want to see how much can be touched and how much is restricted, to justify the request for a loan.”
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan committees on Finance and Infrastructure are holding a joint hearing next week on the proposed P180 million additional loan for the Negros First CyberCentre, being requested for approval by the SP by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.
The loan for the first phase of the CyberCentre was P480 million.
Salado said most of the P1.6 billion in bank balances of the province have already been allocated and appropriated for payments to the Government Service Insurance System, PhilHealth and procurement and benefits of employees, while the P44 million EEDD unrestricted funds are reserved for its supplemental budget and December bonuses.
Contrary to claims that the provincial government could be headed for bankruptcy, Salado said that will not happen as the province has back-up cash, although it cannot be spent, as it has been appropriated for agencies with collectibles from the province.
Lacson, who had been furnished with copies of the summary of bank balances of the provincial government by the Acting Provincial Accountant, Carolina Isuga, however, said he wants to question her during the committee hearing next week.
“If, indeed, it has already been allocated to certain projects or items, probably there are still some unrestricted funds, that, hopefully, the provincial accountant can tell us,” Lacson said.
The summary of bank balances of the provincial government, a copy of which was secured by the media, showed that it has P1,092,671,502.20 in time deposit, and P545,824,858.59 in current account, or a total of P1,638,496,360.79, as of May 31.
It is broken down into P829,348,255.66 for the general fund, Economic Enterprise Development Division - P404,534,383.06, Trust Fund (restricted) - P261,562,829.70 and Special Education Fund - P143,050,892.37.
The other fund, which is the P1.8 billion IRA for 2013, has also been appropriated, except for the P5 million unrestricted funds, Salado said.
To sum it up, he added, the unrestricted fund is below P180 million.
Salado said they are finalizing the draft of the supplemental budget, to be presented during the joint SP committee hearing next week.
The controversial Negros First CyberCentre project had undergone microscopic scrutiny by the previous SP during the election period.*GPB