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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
SEVEN years after it was declared as a city, Naga reported a P414-million increase in revenues.
In his State of the City Address yesterday, City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong said that from P112 million seven years ago, its revenues reached P526 million last year, or a P414-million increase.
Chiong attributed the increase to the growing business community and the City Government’s friendly attitude toward incoming enterprises. He declared the city “financially sound”.
Last year, the City’s revenues included P280 million in its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) or share of the national tax collection effort and P300 million from local taxes and fees.
When it first became a chartered city last July 15, 2007, it had a local income of P46 million and an IRA share of P66 million.
According to the Commission on Audit (COA)’s 2012 report, the City of Naga posted a total income of P491.53 million, including an IRA of P242.6 million, or an increase of P236.5 million. The total amount was 93 percent higher than its earnings in 2011, which reached P255 million.
“Wala kita’y utang (We have no debts). I can confidently say that the City Government is financially sound. Ang atong kwarta gi-unsa man pag-gasto? Kini atong gigahin sa nagkalain-lain nga serbisyo, programa, proyekto ug development sa atong Naga (How did we spend the City’s funds? We invested it in government services, programs and projects for the development of Naga),” Chiong said.
Chiong recalled that when Naga became a city seven years ago, around 500 businesses were registered there.
Seven years later, the city now hosts more than 1,000 small, medium and large businesses, including industrial and manufacturing companies.
Its two biggest taxpayers are the Korean Electric Power Company, whose plant is in Barangay Colon, and the APO-Cemex Plant in Barangay Tinaan.
The City’s tax collection program has been recognized by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), and it was awarded for three straight years as an outstanding local government unit in terms of its efficiency in collecting real property taxes.
Chiong said the City’s increased income enabled it to organize 21 national high schools as of 2013, compared to only six in 2007. Remote barangays in the city have public elementary and high schools, he said.
From 2008 to 2013, the mayor also said, the City Government constructed 57 school buildings or 137 classrooms for P116 million.
Aside from their own funds, the City also got help from non-government organizations in rehabilitating and repairing classrooms.
The City recently worked with the Cebu Technological University (CTU) in establishing a satellite college in Naga, making college education more accessible to residents. The state university opened its Naga campus last June.
Chiong said that the City also set aside P12 million for 277 scholars for the City of Naga College Scholarship Program, which is now on its third year.
The City plans to add five scholars.
While the Department of Education (DepEd) has advised the City against hiring locally-funded teachers, they were able to get permission to hire 28 teachers due to the extreme need. From 2008 to 2013, the City has allocated P65 million to hire 734 locally funded teachers.
For this year, the City has partnered with the Salcon Power Corp. (SPC) in constructing a public library and computer laboratory, the mayor reported.
The City is also planning to create specialized high schools such as a School for the Arts, Culture and Sports.
In terms of infrastructure, the city spent around P191.8 million for the concreting and asphalting of barangay roads from 2008 to 2013. Also, P44.68 million has been spent to build bridges.
Chiong added that the City also spent P11.4 million for the improvement of water systems in its 28 barangays.
About P19.3 million was spent for drainage rehabilitation and construction, and P5.6 million for the expansion of its reclamation project.
They are also set to complete some projects this year such as the Naga Hall of Justice, a new police and fire station, a new public market, a new slaughterhouse and a new city jail.
In terms of health, the city has instituted programs such as the Doctors to the Barangays Program.
Chiong also thanked the city’s business partners who continue to help them in implementing health programs in the barangays.
In terms of social services, Chiong said that the City allocated around P10 million per year for its Assistance in Individual Crisis Situation program, which provides aid to indigent residents. That program currently has 18,548 beneficiaries.
The city also established the Stimulating Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC), which helps children with special needs by providing them with “occupational, physical and psychiatric therapy and other services.”
Mayor Chiong admitted that Naga City has a long way to go in addressing all concerns when it comes to environmental management.
He plans to establish an Environmental Management Office, which will work on conservation and regulation programs, as well as try to minimize pollution.
Chiong also said that the City is set to establish a septage treatment facility, to prevent the contamination of the city’s water resources.
The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has already granted the City a loan of P80 million to implement the project.
The City is also finalizing its updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which will help officials counteract the adverse effects of industrialization and promote ecotourism.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2014.