COA: Bantayan underutilized close to P50M in dev’t funds

By: Jessa Mae O. Sotto August 27,2018 - 09:41 PM


THE change in leadership in the municipality of Bantayan last year is the main reason why millions of development funds were underutilized, the town’s budget officer said.

Government auditors earlier observed that at least P49.6 million intended for the town’s priority projects were not used.

“The delay primarily was caused by the change of leadership in May 2017. The mayor before May 12 was Arthur Despi who was replaced by mayor (Ian Christopher) Escario. Ang mayor man gyod baya ang mo-spearhead sa implementation,” said Bantayan Budget Officer Doris Espina through a text message to CDN.

Espina also chairs the municipality’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Escario assumed as the duly elected town mayor of Bantayan in May last year after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified Mayor Arthur Despi.

The Comelec cancelled the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of Despi due to alleged material misrepresentation.

Despi allegedly attached a falsified Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) in his COC.

COA stated that the underutilized fund accounted for 83 percent of the town’s total appropriation of P60 million.

“Non-implementation of priority projects under the municipality’s continuing and current development fund appropriation resulted in the underutilization of P49,626,991.19 or 83 percent of the total appropriation of P60,060,271.44 which may have deprived the constituents of the benefits they could have acquired from the projects/programs had these been timely carried out by the officials concerned,” the COA report read.

COA added that this is violative of the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2011–1, otherwise known as the “Guidelines on the Appropriation and Utilization of the 20 percent of the Annual Internal Revenue Allotment for Development Projects” of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“It is the responsibility of every Provincial Governor, City, and Municipal Mayor and Punong Barangay to ensure that the 20 percent of the IRA is optimally utilized to help achieve desirable socioeconomic development and environmental outcomes,” the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2011-1 stated.

“Further, all concerned local chief executives are hereby reminded that utilizing such fund, whether willfully or through negligence, for any purpose beyond those expressly prescribed by law or public policy shall be subject to the sanctions provided under the Local Government Code and under such other applicable laws,” it added.

Bantayan, a first class municipality in Bantayan Island, is located at the northern tip of Cebu or about 163.3 kilometers from Cebu City.

The town is frequented by tourists because of its white sand beaches. The town is also a major source of chicken eggs for mainland Cebu.

Bantayan has a total income of P200,432,885.68 in 2017 which is higher than the P186,566,250.58 income it recorded in 2016.

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TAGS: 50, batnayan, closed, COA, development, Funds, million, underutilized

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