• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, representing the City of Bacolod, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) chief executive officer Michael de Jesus, representing DBP, led the ceremonial signing of the P4.4 billion loan agreement between the city and the bank to fund 17 projects of the city.
Benitez thanked DBP for giving the best deal, offering an interest of 3.55 percent per annum, which is the lowest in the country.
De Jesus, on the other hand, thanked the city officials for giving them an opportunity to be of service to the city.
“I hope, this will just be the start of further deals in the future,” he added.
Benitez said the proposed loan was initially P5.5 billion. But because the National Tax Allocation (NTA) of the city was reduced in 2023 because of the pandemic, they had to reduce the amount of the loan. However, he is confident that the NTA will soon return to previous levels.
“This is a result of a consensus between the SP during our beginning of year meeting where I asked if we had to wait for money to come into the coffers of the city before we start building and pump prime the economy, or do we have to borrow funds today to ensure the rapid development of our economic environment,” he said.
It has been proven that Region 6 is now the fastest growing region in the country. It has registered 9.8 percent gross regional development profit, which is higher than the national average of 7.6 percent, Benitez said.
“If you look at it, we are poised to take off to be an economic power house in the Philippines. It is precisely the reason why I think we should act now and put it all in development so we can pump prime the economy for a better future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Benitez said the city will not be securing a loan beyond its capacity to pay. There is also an agency that will look into how much amount they can borrow from the bank.
Benitez said they will be submitting to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) all the projects they intend to fund with the loan agreement. As agreed, every project that will be used from the loan agreement will pass through the SP for approval.
Also present were Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya and members of the City Council, led by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and the city’s barangay captains.*