Capi­tol eyes P4B bud­get for 2019, P1.2B in loan deal up for sign­ing

Sun Star Bacolod - - Top Stories - BY ER­WIN P. NICAVERA

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.*

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