Surigao Norte town finance officers told to attend budget hearings

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/22 January) — Members of the Surigao del Norte Provincial Board  have asked the finance officers of local government units in the province to give importance to budget hearings instead of treating them as mere formalities.

Board Members Leonilo A. Adonza, Mamerto D. Galanida, Mryna M. Romarate, Fernando T. Larong III, Regina G. Alaan and Edgar T. Andanar were one in saying that municipal budget officers, or at least the representatives of the Municipal Planning and Development Offices (MPDO), must attend the hearings and explain [their budgets] as required by law.

The Provincial Board was apparently reacting to the failure of the towns whose 2011 appropriations were being reviewed by the provincial legislative body to send representatives during last week’s budget hearing.

As a result, Vice Governor Arturo Carlos Egay, Jr. said the board failed to tackle the annual investment plan and the 2010 supplemental budget of these LGUs.

Among the towns whose budgets were pending before the Provincial Board were Tagana-an, Malimono and Surigao City. Those that had pending supplemental budget proposals were San Isidro, Tubod and Surigao City.

“The budget officer should be here because we would like to know how the budget will be spent,” said Romarate.

For her part, Alaan said that Galanida, chair of the budget and appropriation committee, should summon the municipal budget officers to the hearing and warn them that their non-appearance would delay the approval of their respective budgets.

The provincial councilors also chided the “habit” of some LGUs to only submit their budgets at the last minute, which often resulted in the previous appropriation being reenacted.

Adonza said municipal budget officers should include supplemental budget proposals in the budget plan for the current calendar year.

Annual municipal budgets are subject to review by the Provincial Board, a check and balance mechanism provided for in the Local Government Code where local officials or their representatives are asked to explain how their funds are being spent.

Under Section 237 of the Local Government Code, the Provincial Board may declare the annual budget or any appropriation ordinance inoperative “in its entirety or in part” upon review. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)