BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod City has about P21 million left from the P119 million Bayanihan grant given by the national government to help boost its capacity in responding to the COVID-19 situation.
Budget Officer Imelda Williams said that since the country has been placed under a State of Calamity due to the threat of COVID-19, the city can still disburse the remaining funds until the declaration has been lifted.
“But since the State of Calamity has been extended up to September 12, 2021, we can also extend our disbursement because we are not required to submit partial liquidation,” Williams said during the virtual session of the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod Wednesday to clarify some issues on social media regarding the liquidation of the Bayanihan grant.
Williams said they will submit a liquidation report on the funds spent by the city. She added that if the State of Calamity will be lifted, then the city is required to return whatever funds are left to the national treasury.
Under the Implementing Rules of the Bayanihan grant, a local government unit (LGU) can never give salaries, even financial assistance in the form of cash, she said in response to reports that about P41 million of the fund was spent for the salaries and wages of doctors, nurses and volunteers involved in COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, Gilda Luisima of the Bids and Awards Secretariat said that all LGUs are mandated to purchase rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) which costs only about P1,250 a sack and is cheaper compared to commercial rice.
An LGU cannot buy commercial rice if NFA has available stocks left, she said, in response to complaints from residents of Bacolod who are recipients of food assistance during lockdowns.*