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Northern Samar leaves idle P194M funds from gov’t agencies

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by Allan Yves Briones

The Commission on Audit (COA) tags the provincial government of Northern Samar for failing to utilize funds amounting to P193.91 million granted by various national government agencies (NGA).

According to the 2018 annual audit report, sums of varying sizes were granted by, among others, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways and even the Office of the President.

“The foregoing deficiencies reflect the lack of monitoring of fund transfers from various NGAs which resulted in unimplemented and/or unexpended balances/returned excesses of funds at year-end, thus depriving the intended beneficiaries from access to local service delivery,” the report stated.

One of the biggest grants came from the DILG for the construction and concrete paving of farm-to-market roads along Poblacion-Balud Coroconog and Balud Balnasan Hmabugat Road which cost the government P104.8 million.

The fund was granted in 2016, with state auditors noting delays in its implementation by the end of 2018.

Counted among the long list of unimplemented projects are Department of Budget and Management’s Kilos Asenso program (P2.86 m), DA’s Yolanda rehabilitation efforts (P13.18 m) and a grant from the President’s Special Fund (P16.29 m) – details of which were missing from local records.

Nortern Samar key personnel, in the report, explained that the delayed implementation of the projects were caused by similar delays in the preparation of the programs of work, work and financial plans, and public bidding.

State auditors also called out the provincial government’s failure to submit Fund Utilization Reports required under law, citing COA Circular 2007-001 Item 5.4 which requires it within 60 days after project completion.

COA called on Nortern Samar Governor Edwin Ongchuan, who succeeded Jose Ong, Jr., to order the provincial accountant to verify the idle balances and revisit their respective memorandums of agreement.