The P4 billion budget for 2019 of the provincial government of Negros Occidental was unanimously approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during its regular session yesterday.
Board Member Salvador Escalante, chairperson of the SP Committee on Finance that deliberated on the budget for almost a month, said it posted an increase of more than P400 million, compared to P3.6 billion this year.
Escalante said the approval of the 2019 budget was the earliest in the nine years he has been chairman of the SP Committee on Finance.
Of the P4,001,918,030 budget approved for next year, P2,073,919,606 has been allocated for Personnel Services, P755,563,077 for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, and P1,172,435,347 for Special Project Allocations.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., in his letter to the SP through Vice-Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, said that the provincial government is substantially allocating funds for the ongoing implementation of prioritized programs, projects, and activities under the Negros First Development Agenda, consistent with the 2019 Annual Investment Program and in harmony with the national government development plans and goals.
Because of the consistent cooperation between the executive and legislative, Marañon said “We are able to provide the needed basic services to our beloved constituents”.
Escalante, on the other hand, said the early approval of the 2019 budget was in preparation for the election banning period, where there can be no movement of budget.
Starting today, he said various departments and offices may now prepare their respective purchase requests for approval by January next year, which, unlike in previous years, were being prepared at the start of the new year.
The three months advanced preparations for purchase requests will only cover the period of election banning, that will start in March next year, he added.
Negros Occidental is the 5 th richest province in 2017, based on its assets, the Commission on Audit Annual Financial Report said.
Vice-Governor Lacson, however, said yesterday that the provincial government officials “still have so much work to do” to address the poverty problem.
POVERTY STILL WIDESPREAD
The COA report showed that Negros Occidental had assets of P12.9 billion. The province, however, declined by two ranks when its assets only increased by P1.8 billion to P12.89 billion, compared to the P11 billion in 2016.
Lacson admitted that there is still widespread poverty in Negros.
“Poverty is prevalent in agriculture. We are an agricultural province and poverty is very present. It just tells us that there is so much work to do," he said.
“It constantly reminds us that we have to improve the income of our farmers,” Lacson said, “although the province, through its agricultural program, is doing its best to improve the productivity of Negrense farmers.”
He also said, “It is not just about planting sugar or rice. It is also about going to agri-tourism. There are many possibilities. We only need to be industrious," he said, noting that the wide gap between the rich and the poor is not only found in the Philippines but also around the world.*
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