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Eastern Samar fails to utilize P230M infra, social welfare fund

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by Allan Yves Briones

The Commission on Audit (COA) found that the provincial government of Eastern Samar failed to utilize funds totaling P227.55 million supposedly appropriated for various infrastructure and social welfare programs.

Audit records showed that the idle funds constituted 96% of the development fund (DF) appropriated for 2018, which according to state auditors, have deprived the province from fully attaining its goals for the year.

“Delayed/non-implementation of developmental projects and low utilization of the 20% DF resulted in the non-attainment of the Province’s commitments to the public and the deprivation of the benefits due them had the funds been optimally utilized and the projects promptly implemented,” the 2018 annual audit report read.

COA called out former Eastern Samar Governor Marcelo Picardal, succeeded by Ben Evardone, for this failure, citing Section 5.0 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Budget and Management Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2017-1.

“It is the responsibility of every local chief executive to ensure that the 20% DF is optimally utilized to help achieve the desirable socio-economic development and environmental outcomes of the LGU (local government unit),” the circular stated.

State auditors found that while the provincial government has appropriated P236.75 million for development projects, it has mostly failed to implement them, with a mere P9.19 million obligation in 2018.

COA also flagged several deficiencies involving the development fund including the lack of a detailed breakdown for several appropriation items, the failure to obligate funds for 22 infrastructure projects, and the provincial government’s failure to resolve this same concern in 2017 when it was raised.

According to the provincial accountant, in the report, the delay was due to problems encountered in getting the annual budget and investment plan approved, which were resolved in the later part of the year.

COA and the provincial government reportedly agreed to prioritize the implementation of the programmed projects, as well as the coordination of local departments to avoid deficiencies and facilitate efficiency. #