Every time a new local leader is elected, problems like scarcity of cash, huge debt, delayed salaries of personnel and unsettled utility bills are being linked to the inefficient fiscal management adopted by the previous administration.
These problems are the major challenges being faced by new local chief executives. Those who have followed their predecessors remain in the vicious cycle of “passive fiscal management” and some elected officials choose to increase real property or business tax rates to secure enough cash for operations.
Parañaque City has a different story. In 2013, it had P2-billion worth of loans from Land Bank of the Philippines where the big chunk was spent for the construction of the city hall which was left unfinished despite the full payment.
Records show that this resulted in a cash deficit of P2.786 billion that should be paid to contractors and suppliers and various benefits and allowances. When the administration of incumbent Mayor Edwin Olivarez took over in July that year, the cash on bank was only P37 million, enough to provide half a month of salaries of permanent and casual city hall employees.
Amid the improved business climate and simplified transactions, the Parañaque City government recovered from the fund deficit for public projects and services six years ago, city treasurer Dr. Anthony Pulmano said.
As of May 30, 2019, the city government was holding more than P3.7 billion that could be dispensed for various programs and projects, according to Pulmano.
Paranaque also paid almost P1-billion (P999, 999,743.71) worth of loans to LBP in February this year. “Side by side, Paranaque was able to settle its financial obligations to LBP and contractors and suppliers without sacrificing spending for public services,” he said.
The good news, he said, is that the city government surpassed the proposed budget by almost P700 million and the target imposed by the Department of Finance by P900 million last year.
“Financial liquidity without any increase in taxes or loans [was achieved],” Pulmano said. The increase was brought about by the taxpayers’ compliance and investors’ confidence in the city government and local leaders, he said.
Pulmano said that in 2013, the city had only P3.3-billion proposed budget. Six years later, it more than doubled to P7.8 billion.
With the increase in funds and cash liquidity, the city government under the leadership of Olivarez was able to focus on the needs of the residents through the delivery of social services and infrastructure.
The city has embarked on various human capital investments such as the construction of school buildings, improvement of roads, health services and capital outlay for the welfare of Parañaquenos.
It constructed two public hospitals, one in Barangay La Huerta and another to be built in Barangay Don Bosco. The city government also built elementary and high school buildings in every 16 barangays.
Starting this school year, the Olivarez administration would provide P500 in monthly stipend to all public high school students. The newly constructed Parañaque City College in Kabihasnan in District I is now in full swing and ready to accept students. City buses will also be deployed to serve students coming from District II to SM Bicutan.
Financial assistance to senior citizens is also on the bucket list of Olivarez and soon there will be a monthly supply of medicines for hypertension and other diseases.
The story behind the success of Parañaque is in line with Olivarez’s formula of effective fiscal management which is “efficient collection of taxes and prudent spending”.
“The financial success of Parañaque city is not attributable to having a good treasurer but to the local chief executive whose vision and mission will serve as the steering factor to bring change and development,” Pulmano said.
“Parañaque is very lucky because Olivarez has steered the city to the path of change and development. The mayor believes that efficient and effective public services will result in increased revenues,” he said.
Next in the pipeline of projects under the Olivarez administration is the People’s Park in Sitio Bulungan, Barangay La Huerta where 100 hectares of reclaimed land would be developed into a city park and a fisherman’s wharf.
The fisherman’s wharf will be called “Bulungan sa Parañaque” where local and foreign tourists can buy fresh fish and other seafood. Aside from converting the place into a market, the city government plans to build retail and souvenir stores and a restaurant.
Pulmano said that a mini-pier would also be built in the area where local and foreign tourists could catch a ferry ride to the nearby Pagcor Entertainment City where the city’s satellite office will be constructed within the year.
A P4-billion mixed-used project along Coastal Road will have three towers. The first tower will house the satellite office of the city government while the second tower will be dedicated to office and commercial use. The third tower will be used as a bed space facility.
The PPP project is also expected to generate jobs and bring the city government’s services closer to citizens and investors.
Pulmano said that under the leadership of Olivarez, each and every centavo counts and the waste of taxpayer’s money is forbidden. “What the city government collects is being spent for the betterment of Parañaqueños,” he said.
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