COA calls out PITC, others over unused funds
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) and seven other state firms over P13.17 billion in unutilized or idle funds intended for the implementation of programs and projects of various government agencies.
In its 2020 Annual Financial Report on Government Corporations, COA said the PITC and the seven other government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) have not fully liquidated their received funds or returned the idle or unutilized balances to the source agencies even after several years.
“Funds received intended for project or program implementation were: (1) not utilized or remained idle; (2) unexpended/unutilized balances were not remitted to source agencies for several years,” the COA report read.
The audit body said the utilization of the funds was also “not comprehensively validated and monitored, thus posing risk and/or delaying the attainment of the purpose/s for which the funds were granted.”
The audit body said the concerned GOCCs’ failure to properly account for and return the unutilized funds to the source agencies contravened COA Circular No. 94-013 dated Dec. 31, 1994, which mandates the implementing agency to submit to the source agency the Report of Checks Issued and Report of Disbursement within 10 days after the end of each month or after the end of the agreed period for the project.
The same circular also mandates the implementing agencies to “return to the source agency any unused balance upon completion of the project.”
COA also cited the Government Accounting Manual as well as the annual General Appropriations Act which require the regular accounting and liquidation of government funds and the return of the unutilized amounts to source agencies or the Bureau of Treasury.
The audit body directed the flagged GOCCs to “submit liquidation reports, immediately liquidate and return any unutilized funds.”
“Coordinate with the source agency for the proper disposition of the unutilized portion in accordance with the provisions of the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between and among the parties,” COA told the concerned GOCCs.
“Return to source agency the unexpended/ unutilized balance upon the completion of the project in accordance with the provisions of the MOA between and among the parties,” it added.
The audit body also reminded the flagged GOCCs to “stop the practice of utilizing the unused balances from completed projects for other purpose, unless authorized through legislative enactment.”
Identified as having the biggest chunk of unutilized, idle and unreturned funds as of the end of 2020 was the PITC with P11.022 billion, followed by the National Electrification Administration with P1.559 billion.
Other agencies that have yet to liquidate and return their respective unutilized funds received from the SAs as of end-2020 were the Tourism Promotions Board (P216.724 million), Philippine Rice Research Institute (P200.278 million), Philippine Pharma Procurement Inc. (P157.742 million), National Resources Development Corp. (P18.462 million), Social Housing and Finance Corp. (P10.360 million) and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (P6.376 million).
Put to good use
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said some P1.44 trillion in funds for idle projects of the Duterte administration would be put to good use for the relief and rehabilitation of communities devastated by Typhoon Odette as well as for livelihood programs for those displaced by the pandemic.
Drilon was commenting on the 2020 Annual Financial Report of the COA which identified “Infrastructure projects implemented by 17 agencies and 12 SUCs (state universities and colleges) amounting to P1.44 trillion and P1.1 billion, respectively, were either not executed in accordance with the plan with noted deficiencies, not completed on time, not completed at all which may result in waste of government funds or delayed enjoyment of project benefits.”
He said the funds should be recalled and rechanneled to assist the victims of Typhoon Odette and provide for the immediate recovery and rehabilitation of various parts of the country damaged by the typhoon.
“We have P1.44-trillion funds for various infrastructure sitting somewhere while thousands of families have no homes and food this Christmas. We have these mammoth funds for projects that are stalled for years while the government is saying it is scrimping on funds to provide immediate aid to typhoon-affected cities, municipalities and provinces,” Drilon said.
“We borrow funds to cover the deficits in the budget. We borrow funds for vaccines. We have no funds for the typhoon victims. But the COA finds P1.44 trillion in idle funds? These funds should be immediately realigned to provide funds to typhoon victims,” he said.
He assailed the government and accused it of criminal neglect over what the COA has flagged as delayed, abandoned and idle infrastructure projects amounting to P1.44 trillion, describing it as “the worst waste of taxpayers’ money in history.”
“This is sheer delinquency and criminal neglect. What a total waste of public funds,” he said.
He recalled that during the plenary debates on the 2022 national budget, it was put on record that the national government’s outstanding debt could total P11.7 trillion by the end of 2021. – Paolo Romero
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