The Quezon City Council has approved on third and final reading the P28.7 billion budget for 2021, keeping social welfare and services the city’s topmost priority.

Social services got almost half or 49% of the total budget at P13.9 billion.

Mayor Joy Belmonte said the allocation of funds for next year is rooted in the city’s objective of providing responsive and efficient social services for all residents, especially as the whole country continues to tackle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The need for social services support during these times is expected to remain high, as many of our citizens struggle against the pandemic and under the new normal,” said Belmonte.

The city, meanwhile, earmarked P10.2 billion for general public services, P3.4 billion for economic services, and P1.2 billion for the legislative branch.

According to Belmonte, the city government had hoped for a small budget next year as the city may be hard-pressed to meet its revenue targets due to the pandemic hindering economic growth.

However, the lady mayor said this will not be possible for two more reasons.

“Salaries and wages across the board have risen significantly, driven by the Salary Standardization Law and our need to provide competitive salaries for our healthcare workers. And lastly, we have to provide adequate and improved healthcare for all,” said Belmonte.

According to Assistant City Administrator for Finance Don Javillonar, these were reflected in the augmented budget of the City Health Department (CHD).

“We increased our CHD’s budget by 95%, taking into consideration new programs such as the Health Emergency Response to Outbreaks or Pandemics, the QC Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, and the increased fund for the procurement of drugs and medicines” said Javillonar.

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