Political bickering in Cebu City has worried the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which provided the 12.315 Yen loan to finance the 300-hectare South Road Properties.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said the issues raised by JICA were worth looking into but the agency shouldn’t interfere in the proejct.
“They are complaining (and asking) why there’s ’more grass growing on the SRP instead of infrastructure. They want to fasttrack development,” the mayor said in a press conference yesterday.
JICA representatives also raised the need to have an SRP management office oversee the operations, disposal of land and even cash flow of the SRP, Rama added.
Rama said that while the city government is grateful for the JICA loan for the SRP the agency “should not dictate to the city” what to do with the reclamation project.
He said JICA also earned a lot from the city’s loan, whose cost changes based on the currency fluctuation.
Cebu City has so far paid about P5.3 billion of the original 12.315 billion Yen loan , which is payable until 2025.
While this developed, Rama issued an executive order creating an ad hoc committee to oversee the SRP management.
The committee includes Bo Varquez of the Cebu Investment Promotions Center (CIPC).
The ad hoc committee could later expand to an SRP management office, he said, which should have its own treasurer and accountant to monitor revenue generation as against its loan repayment.
The mayor said this would make it clearer how much money was spent on the SRP's creation, earned from lot disposal and how much from the SRP proceeds was spent on government services.
Rama said he wanted a status report for his State of the City Address (Soca) which he will deliver on July 2.
If the SRP financial report isn’t ready by then, he said he would make a public presentation on a separate date to update the public.
Rama said he wanted to erase suspicions that the SRP was being used as a “milking cow” by some individuals.
He said there was wide speculation that the SRP would enrich certain individuals because it was a one-man show during the previous administration of then mayor Tomas Osmeńa, who led negotiations to establish the SRP.
The mayor also asked CIPIC to submit a liquidation of the P3 million financial assistance it receives from the city government.
“I want to know how much exactly are we giving them and who are spending it. I'm talking about people's money. Where did it go?”
Rama said that while the city has been consistent in giving annual assistance to CIPC, the SRP's marketing arm has not done much. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters