By Jose B. Perez, Editor-in-Chief (on leave)
NAGA CITY --- Based on the latest Annual Financial Report (AFR) for 2017 of the Commission on Audit (COA), this city, dubbed as the ‘Heart of Bicol’, remains to be the richest city in the Bicol, in terms both of assets and income (revenues).
In terms of assets, Naga has P4.67B, way above Ligao City that places second (P2.24B), followed by Legazpi City at P2.04B that runs third.
In fourth rung is Tabaco City with P1.74B worth of assets, followed at 5th by Sorsogon City (P1.56B), Masbate (P1,10B), and Iriga City, which failed to hit the one billion peso mark, at P733.6 Million.
In terms of revenues, Naga chalked up P1.20B, followed closely by Legazpi City at P1.03B, or a difference of P170 Million.
In third berth is Sorsogon City with P791.2 Million, and Ligao City in fourth with P612.2 Million. The last three places were held by Tabaco City (P561.1 Million), Iriga City (P534.1 Million), and Masbate City (P528.9Million).
Revenue is defined as the income of a government from taxation, excise duties, customs, or other sources, appropriated
to the payment of public services and expenses.
Among the country’s top cities based on the same COA report, Makati City is the country’s richest with total assets running at P196.573B in 2017. Second is Quezon City, with P68.332B. The City of Manila is third with P38.676B, and Cebu City in fourth place with assets worth P33.861B.
COA is mandated by the Constitution to submit to the Pressident and the Congress, within the time fixed by law (not later than last day of September of each year) an annual report covering the financial condition and operations of the government, its subdivisions (LGUs), agencies, and instrumentalities, including government –owned or controlled corporations and non-government entities, subject to its audit, and recommend measures to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.
The Government Accountancy Sector (GAS) is tasked to prepare the Annual Financial Report (AFR) for the local governments. This AFR aims to provide essential information on the financial condition, performance, changes in equity, cash flows, and comparative budget and actual amounts, not only of the individual local government unit but also of the local government sector as a whole, to a wide range of users and stakeholders.
It also caters to the information and statistics needs of economic planners and other government officials, especially the local chief executive (governor, mayor) and the Sanggunian of each LGU, in the deliberation of the local budget and other ordinances and in the determination of sound economic policies and wise decisions for the betterment of the living condition of majority of the citizenry. The public, as the majority stakeholder, is the prime user of the information, in consonance with the fiscal policy of transparency and public accountability.
Meanwhile, Naga City Mayor John Bongat said his office has submitted a total budget of P1.3B plus for 2019, subject to approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod presided over by Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion.
The amount, which jumped from P1.138B in 2018 annual budget remains to be the highest among the 6 other cities in Bicol.
Naga first breached the P1B budget mark in 2017 at P1.118B, making it the only city in Bicol to have joined the elite roster of cities with ‘One Billion Peso annual budget” nationwide, despite its small city category and lower population count.
Bongat explained that 53% of the source of funds for the 2019 annual budget will hinge on its local revenues, meaning those taxes and fees paid for by traders, businessmen, investors, real estate property owners and the general constituency. The remaining 47% comes from the International Revenue Allotment (IRA) that’s being released at the mercy of the national government.
This means that the city’s heavier reliance on its own income or local revenue sources speaks loudly of the city’s dynamic trade and commerce, as well as the Naguenos’ confidence in paying their taxes.