Capitol eyes P4B budget for 2019, P1.2B in loan deal up for signing
THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental is eyeing at least P4 billion annual budget in 2019, which is about 14 percent higher than P3.5 billion last year.
Second District Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr., chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committee on appropriation, budget and finance, yesterday said Provincial Budget Officer Jose Percival Salado has yet to present the “detailed items” of the budget during their session next week.
Escalante said that the bulk of the appropriation will most probably go to personnel services especially now that the provincial government is set to implement the fourth tranche of salary standardization law, the last in the series of tranches, among its employees.
“Initially, our budget for next year is pegged at P4.004 billion, subject to the perusal of the SP,” he said, adding that increase in the annual budget also means an increase on the province’s allowable loan capacity.
The SP, during its regular session yesterday, approved the resolution authorizing Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to enter a loan agreement worth P1.2 billion with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
The amount will fund various infrastructure projects in the province.
The bulk of the amount is earmarked for the construction of the new Provincial Administration Center (PAC) in Bacolod City, which is worth P900 million.
The P125 million will be allocated for the renovation of Eleuterio Decena Memorial District Hospital in Hinoba-an town, while the remaining P175 million will fund the purchase of various facilities and equipment for Mambukal Hotel and Convention Center and Tourist Lodge in Murcia and Negros First Hotel and Negros Pala-pala and Food Terminal in Bacolod City.
Escalante said the SP has authorized the governor to enter into a loan agreement following his successful negotiations with the LBP.
Based on the agreed terms, the province will pay the bank in 10 years with a three-year grace period at an interest rate of 3.5 percent per annum.
For this year, the total loan acquired by the province from the LBP and other creditors like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO) under the Department of Finance (DOF) amounts to about P2.8 billion.
Escalante said this has not yet reached the ceiling of P3.4 billion, pointing out that the annual budget is the bases of the loan capacity of the province.
“We have been earmarking about P250 million every year for loan payments on top of another P250 million funded through the 20 percent Provincial Development Fund,” he said, adding that governor pushes for loans as long as the projects to be funded are advantageous to the province.
Meanwhile, Marañon is expected to sign the agreement with the LBP next week.
After which, the province may already start the bidding process for the development of PAC and other infrastructure projects funded through the loan.*