August 17, 2022
The fuel supply crisis at city hall affects some of the operations of the City Engineering Office and the Waste Management Office, including the sanitary landfill

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – City hall’s trucks and other heavy equipment have been idle for weeks now after fuel dealers stopped gassing them up due to delays in payments blamed on spiraling pump prices, depleted funds, and strict auditing requirements.

The fuel supply crisis at city hall badly affected some of the operations of the City Engineering Office and the Waste Management Office, including the sanitary landfill.

The problem prompted local officials to seek the help of barangays that still have fuel to spare, as well as private companies.

Waste Management Office head Ferdinand Pareja told local broadcaster Brigada television that they have been using equipment lent to them by a mall to keep landfill operations running.

Alvin Veneracion, city hall’s executive assistant for barangay affairs, said the fuel supply was cut off by dealers because their collectibles piled up and ballooned.

Officials did not cite figures but city budget officer John Quimosing said city hall did not foresee the huge increases in fuel prices when local officials prepared the local government’s 2022 budget.

Crude prices in General Santos City average P76 for every liter now, a far cry from the P40 to P45 average prices when local officials were working on city hall’s annual budget in 2021.

Veneracion said on Thursday, August 4, that city hall was working to augment its fuel budget that has been depleted halfway through 2022.

He gave assurances that the local government still has funds to pay the fuel suppliers, but several factors caused delays in the processing of payments.

Veneracion said General Santos Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao and other local officials were looking for ways to deploy heavy equipment again so that basic services such as public works and garbage collection would be unhampered.

“The city mayor is in talks with the fuel dealers to resolve the issue,” he said.

Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang, the chairman of the city council’s finance committee, said the panel would find out if city hall still has a budget for fuel.

Yumang said he was worried because the city government had registered a budget deficit of about P100 million in 2021, a year before Pacquiao succeeded Ronnel Rivera as mayor.

In 2021, local hotels and similar establishments contracted by city hall to serve as COVID-19 quarantine facilities complained of delayed payments from city hall.

Quimosing said there were other factors for the payment delays, and some of the usual bottlenecks were the bureaucracy and strict government auditing that require proper and orderly documentation.

He said the “quality of documents” that require signatures of several local officials, and the submission of receipts and other attachments always factor in the processing of payments. – Rappler.com

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