COA: P80M funds for various Bantayan projects ‘unutilized’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — State auditors are now requesting local government officials of Bantayan town in northern Cebu to address around P80 million worth of unutilized funds intended for multiple projects.
The Commission on Audit (COA), in their annual audit report for the fiscal year 2019 for Bantayan, found out that a total of P80,347,316.33 of funds from various national and local government agencies remained unutilized as of December 31, 2019.
They were supposed to be used for the implementation of at least 33 projects, majority of which are classified under socio-economic purposes.
“Funds received from various national and local government agencies in an aggregate amount of P80,347,316.33 for the implementation of various projects and programs remained unutilized as of December 31, 2019 precluding the optimum use of government resources contract to Section 2 of P.D. (Presidential Decree) No. 1445 and Section 305 (1) of R.A. (Republic Act) No. 7160,” stated COA.
As a result, COA recommended for Bantayan’s local government unit (LGU) “to conduct a thorough evaluation on the conditions and constraints of each fund that restricted its timely implementation, and accordingly adopt appropriate remedial measures for the proper and speedy disposition of the funds in accordance with the respective terms and conditions of the source agencies.”
The LGU of Bantayan, for their part, informed COA that some projects, particularly the P65 million National Housing Authority (NHA) Housing Project, is already underway. They added that others cannot be implemented due to legal impediments.
“Others have already small balances that will be returned back to the funding agency upon clarifications of some issues and concerns,” the report said, citing response from local officials.
According to the 104-page report, funds not spent for their intended purposes ‘for a long period of time may indicate management’s failure to evaluate or reassess and accordingly address the conditions which precluded the implementation of projects and programs to the detriment of the general public’.
State auditors also said some of the funds granted to Bantayan had remained idle for a period of four to 32 months as of December 31, 2019.
“The non-utilization of these funds for its intended purpose has resulted in the deprivation of its constituents of the socio-economic benefits as well as the optimum use of the government’s scarce resources that could have been acquired had these been carried out,” said COA.
Bantayan is a first-class municipality that belonged in the Bantayan group of islands which is located approximately 140 kilometers northwest of Cebu City. /dbs
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