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Cagayan SP finance committee: 2018 AIP, budget not based on approved plan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Cagayan provincial board’s finance committee noted that the 2018 Annual Investment Program (AIP) and Executive Budget was based on an unapproved version of the Provincial Development Investment Program (PDIP).

In a committee hearing on Thursday, December 4, Committee on Finance and Appropriation (CFA) chairman Vice Governor Melvin Vargas Jr said the AIP and annual budget must be based in a PDIP approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).

“Budgetary rules po kasi ito eh. Kailangang may pagbasehan po tayo. Hindi puwedeng pagbasehan yung bago na proposed PDIP. Kasi may inapprove po tayo dito sa Sanggunian. Wala pa pong pagbabasehan yung proposal ng 2018,” Vargas said.

The provincial board approved the original PDIP with reservations from Mamba allies Board Members Rosauro Resuello and Rodrigo De Asis on October 4, 2017.

The PDIP is a medium-term plan for the province for fiscal years 2017-2022.

On October 30, the executive department reportedly submitted an updated PDIP. This new PDIP, now covering 2018-2022, was used in crafting the 2018 AIP and budget, PFO officials confirmed in the hearing.

Meanwhile, the 2018 AIP and budget were submitted to the SP on October 19, slightly behind the October 16 deadline mandated by local government code.

“Hindi po kasi tamang every now and then babaguhin po natin yung medium-term plan…Kung yearly lang ding papalitan yan, parang magiging AIP lang po yan kasi,” Vargas explained.

The hearing was  attended by representatives from the Provincial Finance Committee (PFC) and SP liaison officer to the governor former board member Jenerwin Bacuyag.

PFC said the updated PDIP was submitted to “incorporate projects” not found in the approved PDIP.

Yet, Vargas reiterated that such changes to the PDIP must first be approved in the SP.

The vice governor claimed these were “violations” on budgeting rules, “making it difficult for the sanggunian to legally act on these matters.”

Vargas said, should the CFA find the 2018 AIP and budget conflicting with the SP-approved PDIP, this will be “enough basis” to return the proposals to the executive.

Provincial Planning and Development Officer Elisa Umoso was not present in the CFA hearing because she testified in an ombudsman case hearing in Manila, her staff said.

“Cinonsider naman po natin kahit na-late noon yung submission [ng budget]. Problema lang po ay hindi tayo makakapush through [kasi] wala po yung planning [officer] tapos yung pinagbasehan po [ng budget] yung hindi pa approved na PDIP,” Vargas said.

The CFA adjourned its hearing, saying that it needed Umoso or any representative from the planning and development office to proceed with the questioning of the budget.

Vargas maintained that the updated 2018-2022 PDIP must be first tackled in plenary, before the AIP and budget.

The committee is expected to report its findings in SP’s first 2018 regular session on Friday, January 5. Northernforum.net

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