Cebuanos can expect more than 400 kilometers of improved provincial and barangay roads next year as the Provincial Development Council unanimously approved Capitol’s proposed development projects Wednesday, November 11.
More than half or 55.13 percent of the proposed P15 billion budget for 2021 will be allocated for development projects amounting to P8,269,850,000 that covers road concreting and widening, repair and rehabilitation of barangay and provincial roads and the development of water supply systems in far-flung towns.
Other projects include site acquisition and development of the Cebu Provincial Government Center with P550 million allotted budget; airport/seaport and reclamation and other site development programs with P500 million; and construction and or improvement of buildings and other structure program with P400 million budget.
Construction of drainage systems, flood control systems gets P100 million; another P100 million for the restoration and development of cultural heritage buildings/parks/museums and other heritage sites; and another P100 million for the procurement of ambulance, mini dump trucks and other motor vehicles.
Some P74 million is also allocated for the payment for loan amortization of the heavy equipment purchased during the previous administration.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia emphasized that infrastructure and water system projects will be next year’s priority as these will serve as the driving force in revitalizing the economy.
“This is the way that we will be proceeding, focus on infrastructure labina ang dalan. Accessibility kay mao kini moy labing una nga makatabang pagpabangon og balik sa atong ekonomiya,” she said.
She also pushed for the development of Level III water supply systems like the one in Carmen town.
Presently, the municipality of Carmen is completing the Phase 1 of the water system project envisioned by the Province in 2012 when it entered into an agreement with Cebu Manila Water Development, Inc. (CMWDI). It is now slowly being realized as the Province gains control of the CMWDI.
By December, the town is expected to distribute water to 400 households.
“Level 3. Dili ta Level 2 and it must be the local government units (LGU) ang mupadagan sa water works system because it can be an economic enterprise and of course because there is accountability,” Garcia said.
Based on the Annual Investment Plan, the water supply program has a P200 million allocation.
“Gamay ra na. Why? Because we have a continuing appropriation under the 2020 budget,” the governor said, adding that there is a continuing fund of about P700 million that can be used for next year.
The governor urged local chief executives to submit their water development proposals as soon as possible so the Provincial Engineering Office can validate and start working on the projects.
Road to recovery
Since the loosening of restrictions in August, the Province have started to revive the economy with the re-opening of the tourism industry.
Cebu is gradually picking up the economy as canyoneering activities, sardine run diving, whaleshark-watching and other tourism activities return bringing back livelihood opportunities for the locals.
Garcia said it is a must for local leaders to show to its constituents that there is hope amidst the darkness Covid-19 has brought to everyone.
“Ok na gyud tingali ta. Ok naman ta ba. Kita mga leaders it is incumbent upon us to show that Cebu is on the road to recovery. Kita ang mo lead. Kita ang magpakita sa uban nga this is the way we will go,” she said.
As a sign of support to the Province’s initiatives to revive the tourism industry, she shared that the Provincial Board is set to hold out-of-town sessions as a way to promote Cebu’s beautiful tourism spots.
“We are the chosen leaders of this Province. It is our primary responsibility right now at this moment in our history to give our people hope. Hope after those long dark months of lockdowns. Let us pull them out from the abyss of despair that these restrictions and lockdowns have caused because of a virus that has proven itself, inspite of the death of my two brothers, that has proven itself to be highly treatable, depende lang og asa mo moadto,” Garcia said.
She also shared that had she acceded to the natural tendency of humans to hold on to power, she would have preferred to continue with the restrictions set under an environment of fear brought by the pandemic “kay mas makabuot ta unsay lihok sa mga tawo.”
“But I said, at what cost? Daghan nang mga negosyo nagsira, daghan nang way trabaho, daghan nang panginabuhian ang naundang. We must make our way back from the abnormalcy that Covid 19 has caused back to normalcy,” the governor said.
“Akong awhagon ang tanan to be on board. We will now focus on the economy. We will now focus on people’s livelihoods because livelihoods mean life as well,” she expressed.
Aside from the tourism revival, the Province also pushed for the SugBusog program, a vegetable gardening project which was started in April which is now being institutionalized to the barangays and sitios all over Cebu.
Garcia also started the Sugbo Negosyo program in September this year which aims to give small and micro entrepreneurs a jumpstart by giving them assistance to start their own business, make their own products, or reboot their business operations.
As questions of a higher budget may be raised amid the economic slowdown, Garcia emphasized that it is a better time for the government to step up.
“Ang uban maghunahuna grabe ta kaapektuhan, di lang usa nato pasakaan atong budget. But no, I believe that more than ever this is the time when government must step in, the provincial government must step in and lead in giving the Cebuanos hope,” she said.
From P12 billion in 2020, the Office of the Governor proposed for a P15 billion budget in 2021.
The governor enjoined all mayors, Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia of the Third District and 5th District Representative, and representatives of the various government line agencies present during the meeting to come together.
“Let us join hands, magkuyog ta niini, to send a signal that will ring out throughout the entire Province, the entire country. Ang Probinsya sa Sugbo andam na sa pagbukas ug pagbalik sa pagpalambo sa atong lalawigan,” she expressed.
“And this progress, this development, will be distributed in each of your local government units. Walay biyaan, walay lainon. Ang tanan tabangan, sigun sa panginahanglan sa inyong mga katawhan,” she continued. (Vanessa L. Almeda)