Angeles City—This Pampanga city’s debt payment in 2019 will climb to a new high of P233 million, “taking a heavy toll on the city’s social services as it irreversibly falls into a disastrous debt trap for 15 years,” a mayoral candidate said over the weekend.
This developed as the Northern Luzon Airport Consortium has committed to invest P6 billion to run the operations and maintenance service of Clark International Airport that will “redefine the tourism and travel industry of the region upon its completion come 2020.”
Kambilian official candidate Alexander S. Cauguiran said the city government’s total outstanding debt has ballooned to P1.6 billion, the largest in the city’s history, and its yearly debt payment shall increase from P179 million in 2018 to P233 million this year, as the installment for the P1.22-billion loan from the Development Bank for the Philippines starts to kick in.
This massive borrowing, Cauguiran warned, exacts a heavy toll on the city’s basic social services.
“Take the case of the Ospital Ning Angeles [ONA]. Its 2019 budget for drugs and medicines amounts to only P4 million, and P11 for medical, dental, and laboratory supplies and equipment. This was approximately the same amount appropriated for the same items last year, while the city paid P179 million to service its loan,” he said.
The candidate said most ordinary Angeles residents “are complaining of the dire lack of medicines and medical supplies at the city-owned hospital.”
“Indeed, how can one reconcile that city spends P233 million for debt service while providing a measly P15 million for ONA’s medicines and medical supplies?” he added.
Meanwhile, the NLAC includes Josephine Gotianum-Yap, president and chief operating officer of Filinvest Development Corp., one of four companies in the consortium.
Cauguiran, the former Clark International Airport Corp. president, said the group’s vision is to position Northern Luzon as a gateway “that will surely create more growth of job and economic prosperity for Angeles City.”
“This is the reason why we need to develop the industry as more tourists mean more jobs and a strong economy for city,: he said during a meeting with the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Pampanga (HRAP).
To realize the success of the program, Cauguiran said the region needs to attract over 600,000 tourists a year ― including the Koreans, Chinese, retired Americans, and Australians who are regular visitors of the city.
Data from the World Travel and Tourism Council showed that every 30 tourists who visit a place creates one job for the locals, he said.
The employment generated by the tourism industry will be deployed in hotels, restaurants, and food industries. Accountants, IT technicians, drivers, tourists guided, janitors and utility men will also see more opportunities.
“More tourists, more jobs with strong economy will also generate more related establishments like souvenir and delicacy shops for economic prosperity,” Cauguiran said.