Cebu City okays historic P51.4B budget for 2023

THE Cebu City Council has approved the P51.4 billion proposed budget of the City Government for 2023, which is expected to fuel the Singapore-like Cebu City vision of Mayor Michael Rama.

With an affirmative vote from 10 councilors, three negative votes, and one abstention, the ordinance enacting City Hall’s P51,457,715,685.30 annual budget for next year was approved during the council’s special session Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

This is the largest annual budget of a local government unit in the Philippines approved so far.

The approved annual budget of Quezon City for 2023 is only P33.542 billion while that of Manila City is P22.2 billion.

Cebu City’s P51.4 billion budget for 2023 is a more than 470 percent jump from its budget this year of nearly P9 billion.

Cebu City’s 2023 budget comprises P49.7 billion for the General Fund Proper and P1.75 billion for the Special Accounts.


Before the majority’s approval, members of the opposition bloc questioned why the proposed budget ordinance should be approved when the tax code revision that sought the increase in the real property tax (RPT) had not yet been approved.

Councilor Nestor Archival said P40 billion of the proposed budget will be sourced from the revenues from the RPT collection.

Opposition Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos also lambasted the proposed budget which she deemed “illogical” considering that the city was not able to achieve its target tax collection in recent years.

De los Santos said she supports the Singapore-like vision for Cebu City but that it is “a bad time” to propose a P50 billion budget and implement a tax increase in 2023 since this will hurt not only businesses but also ordinary people.

The other councilor who voted against the measure was Jose Abellanosa, while Association of Barangay Councils president Franklyn Ong abstained from voting.

Councilor Noel Wenceslao, the author of the ordinance, said the proposed increase in taxes is not the only source of funds to achieve the 2023 budget.

Wenceslao reasoned that the local finance committee certified that if the City Government will “improve and enhance” its tax collection method, the P50 billion can be achieved.

One of the options is to go after delinquent taxpayers and collect taxes from transactions happening within the jurisdiction of the city but being booked in a company’s head office located in Metro Manila.

Under the ordinance, the source of funds for the P49.7 billion General Fund Proper would be tax revenues of P44.5 billion, non-tax revenues of P2.1 billion, National Tax Allotment of P2.7 billion and the share from economic zones of P300 million.

The source of funds for the P1.75 billion Special Accounts would primarily be the subsidy from the General Fund Proper of P1.46 billion, followed by the non-tax revenues of P180 million from the City’s hospitals, P108.45 million from the City’s markets and P8.5 million from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor.

Uses of budget

As for the uses of the 2023 budget, the bulk or P36.84 billion of the P49.7 billion General Fund Proper will go toward capital outlay, P10.7 billion to maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and P2.2 billion to personal services.

For the Special Accounts, P658.6 million of the P1.75 billion budget will be for capital outlay, P604.9 million for personal services, and P491.2 million for MOOE.


Committee on budget and finance vice chairperson Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera introduced some changes in the original proposed budget, one of which is the increase in funds for the construction of medium-rise buildings (MRBs) for the city’s socialized housing program from the original proposed budget of P24 billion. During the final deliberation, the proposed allocation ballooned to P26 billion.

Pesquera reported that the increased amount came from the MOOE funds of various City Hall offices.

The council also transferred P1.3 million originally intended for motor vehicle procurement under the Sangguniang Panlungsod office, to the City Agriculture Office for the installation of a solar irrigation system.

De los Santos also raised that since there are amendments, the ordinance should be returned to the council’s committee on laws for further review.

However, Pesquera insisted that creating amendments to amounts is within the powers of the City Council. (With CTL)