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Capitol loses millions over Relampagos lapses in 20% development fund expense
By Leonor S. Albino
Published December 9, 2001 by Bohol Sunday Post -

The province lost, and continues to lose, millions of pesos in expenses and unrealized income because of the previous administration's failure to properly utilize the funds allotted for development programs.

The provincial government earmarked P92.57 million, representing the 20 percent Development Fund to finance its projects and programs for year 2000. In addition to this was the continuing and legislative appropriations amounting to P10.85 million unalloted at the end of the previous year.

Sec. 287 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code requires all local government units to appropriate not less than 20 percent of its annual Internal Revenue Allotment for development projects.

The Commission on Audit, however, reported that the Capitol, under the administration of former governor Rene Relampagos, failed to comply with this requirement.

The province only spent P55.9 million or 54 percent of the P103.4 million available for the Capitol's different development programs in 2000.

The previous administration also realigned some of the allotments under the DF to other projects beyond its priority concerns, causing delays to its intended programs.

P42 thousand a month down the drain

The COA's Value for Money Audit report showed that the province spent P840,000 from May 2000 to December of this year for the rentals of the Provincial Auditor's Office alone, pending thecompletion of the Capitol annex building in Dao District.

Every month, the province spends P42,000 for rentals of the said office, or more than half a million pesos a year.

The project costs P15 million and COA said the province stands to suffer additional expenses due to the escalation of prices of construction materials and labor as well as the rental cost of the Auditor's office for this year.

The Office of the Provincial General Services, which took charge in the construction of the new Capitol annex building, had assured that the project would be completed in September 2000 yet.

The PGSO justified the delay as due to some changes in the original plan and hitches in the procurement of materials, the COA said.
This problem, however, is just the proverbial icing on the cake.

The COA report also revealed that the province realigned the P7.5 million intended for the construction of the new Capitol annex building and the rehabilitation of the old building to social development programs.

Provincial accountant Joseth Celocia explained that since the P7.5 million could not be utilized during the calendar year 2000, Relampagos decided to revert the amount to fund other social services programs inasmuch as the same amount will be appropriated for the intended projects in the year 2001.

COA, however, said the "indiscriminate" reversion of the amount to social services, which could also have been appropriately funded by the 20 percent DF, delayed the completion of the said projects.

Moreover, the move also caused the provincial government additional expenses from the escalating prices of materials, labor and rental expenses.

Sloppy work

The province has also spent an estimated P1.3 million for the corrective work on the Bato Bridge in Maribojoc.

COA said, however, that had the project engineer strictly supervised the construction of the said bridge, which is a grant from the national government, the province would not have wasted money on repairs.

Moreover, COA said the P3 million, which the national government committed to reimburse the province upon the completion of the project, could have been received and used to finance important projects of the present administration.

COA recommended that project engineers should strictly supervise projects to prevent loss of government resources. Moreover, the provincial government should also identify possible sanctions that may be imposed against erring officials and employees of the Provincial Engineer's Office.

Right money, wrong project

COA also revealed that a P3-million appropriation under the 20 percent DF was diverted to programs beyond the priority concerns of the said fund.

These expenditures were either released to the different local government units or purchased medicines and medical equipment, and textbooks and encyclopedia for pre-school and high school students, the audit report said.

According to COA, however, the said these expenses could not be sourced from the Development Fund. Using development funds to purchase medicines and other medical supplies and equipment may only be allowed for the displaced and needy in times of disasters and calamities.

Moreover, the provincial government had already purchased P1-million worth of textbooks and encyclopedia during the year.

The report stated that provincial budget officer Valeria Orig had explained that the realignment was made due to the alleged reversion of the plan for the new Capitol annex building and the objections raised by the National Historical Institute (NHI) in the way the old Capitol building had to be rehabilitated.

She added that since there was a perceived need to fund other social services, the P7.5 million was reverted and reappropriated to it.

Where the money should be

The report also revealed that the unused balance of P4.6 million in the 20 percent DF at the end of calendar year 1999 was not re-appropriated to finance projects and programs qualified for funding under the same fund.

Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular No. 90-66 requires that any reverted or unexpended balance of the Development Fund during the year shall be re-appropriated to finance only those to be funded under the said fund for the following year.

COA said this deprived the intended beneficiaries and other stakeholders the benefits they could have enjoyed from the said projects.

No earnings

According to the COA report, the provincial government could have earned additional revenues from its Provincial Livestock and Poultry Farm (PLPF) project in Bilar had it been carried out as an economic enterprise than merely a purely dispersal project.

The province appropriated P2.5 million from the Development Fund for the livestock dispersal program for the calendar year 2000.

COA said if the project had been converted into a business venture, it could have generated revenues for the province or at least made the project self-sustaining so that the amount appropriated each year for maintenance can be recovered.

Half-baked development programs

The province appropriated P92.57 million for the 20 percent DF for the calendar year 2000. In addition to this is the P10.85 million continuing appropriation and legislative appropriation unalloted at the end of the previous year.

The COA reported, however, that of the total amount of P103.4 million available for expenditure for different programs under the Development Fund, only P55.9 million or 54 percent was spent during the year.

This means that the planned programs and projects were not fully accomplished during the year. These include the construction of the new provincial hospital in Talibon and the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Tagbilaran City.

COA recommended that the province must adopt measures and strategies to ensure swift implementation of programs and projects identified in a given year.

Through this, the intended beneficiaries can immediately avail of the benefits from the said projects.

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