May 23, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

If the funds of the city government that are under time deposit are reverted to the general fund, the amount will be enough to finance more urgent projects like the rehabilitation of the city’s sewerage treatment plant (STP).

City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias underscored this as he informed the city council the city government has P4.4 billion in the bank under time deposit, which covers the money allotted for projects that are not implemented up to this time.

He was called by the city council to explain the Audit Observation Memorandum from the Commission on Audit regarding the amounts that are in time deposits.

Cabarrubias admitted the city indeed deposited amounts that are beyond what the COA requires under time deposit but added while this is the case, the city government has not defaulted in paying its obligations. The amount allowed by COA for time deposits was not immediately known.

The COA further advised the city government to only put in time deposit amounts that are considered idle, or those that were not appropriated for projects.

Asked why the city government has that huge sum of money in the banks, Cabarrubias said the funds represent those that were allotted for projects but up to now remain unimplemented.

He shared the observation of some councilors that having a huge amount in time deposits is not sound financial management as it means the money is not spent on the projects they are intended for.

“Maybe we should ask the implementors like the City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Engineering Office, and the City Buildings and Architecture Office why projects are not being implemented,” he said when asked by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda why the city has so much unused funds that are in time deposit.

“We should not collect money only to put it in the bank. We should collect to implement projects,” Cabarrubias added.

He said if the P4.4B under time deposit is reverted to the general fund, it will be enough to finance more pressing projects, such as the P2.6B rehabilitation of the STP, which the executive department aims to implement through a loan.

Cabarrubias said at this time, the amount deposited in the bank cannot be withdrawn and used for other projects because it is already covered by an appropriations ordinance.

“If we revert the P4.4B that covers the unimplemented projects, we can fund the STP project, but that is impossible because the fund is already appropriated,” he said.

If the implementing agency decides that the project is no longer implementable, that is the time the fund becomes available for reappropriation.

The non-utilization of funds, among them the 20 percent Local Development Fund, is one of the reasons the city government always fails the assessment for the Seal of Good Local Governance award issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The City Treasury resorts to saving in time deposit the unused funds to earn more interest.

Cabarrubias told the council that from 2016 to 2022, the interest earned by the city government from the amounts put in time deposit is P387,681,000.