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Lawmaker asks DOF to explain ‘missing’ P25-B Malampaya fund

MANILA, Philippines - A lawmaker has urged the Department of Finance (DOF) to account for the P25 billion “missing” Malampaya fund as reported by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“What happened to that huge amount? The concerned officials should explain the discrepancy in the current balance of the Malampaya fund,” Mindoro Occidental Rep. Josephine Sato said.

Sato has filed a bill that seeks to authorize the use of the money for renewable energy and biodiversity programs. 

The fund represents the government’s share from a natural gas facility off Palawan, which Shell is running. Remittances are turned over to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), which is under the DOF.

Sato said treasury officials should reconcile their remittance and disbursement records, which the COA has found conflicting.

She noted that there were “sizeable discrepancies” in the accounting of the huge Malampaya fund.

According to the COA report that was based on BTr documents, remittances to the fund between 2002 and 2016 amounted to a total of P232 billion. Of that amount, P42 billion was released for various energy projects, leaving a balance of P189 billion.

However, another BTr report showed that remittances amounted to P236 billion, while releases totaled P21 billion, or a balance of P214 billion.

COA said the discrepancy between P214 billion and P189 billion is P25 billion.

Sato said P25 billion “could go a long way in jumpstarting renewable energy projects that would boost power supply and energize off-the-grid, island provinces like those in the Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan region.”

“Malampaya funds should be used to energize remote islands with no access to, or short in supply of, electricity. It is high time that a portion of the money goes to projects that promote renewable energy, particularly in off-grid and island provinces,” she said.

She said the government has to provide electricity to these islands “to lure investors and spur economic activities.”

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