COA asks city to explain

Kristine B. Quintas/ATO (The Freeman) - February 26, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Commission on Audit has called the attention of the Cebu City government on the non-implementation of 128 projects under the Annual Investment Plan worth P550.42 million in 2014.

COA told the city government to explain and consequently take actions to facilitate the implementation of the projects. It also requires the city to provide specific plans and program of works for AIP projects to “execute them on time and to ensure the proper utilization of the fund.”

In a January 12 Audit Observation Memorandum addressed to Mayor Michael Rama, the commission found out some “deficiencies” in the implementation of projects under the 2014 the AIP totaling to P550,419,652.

“Review of the programs, projects activities embodied in the AIP disclosed that none of these projects was implemented for 2014, thus depriving its target beneficiaries of these plans, programs and projects,” the two-page audit report read.

With the “unimplemented” projects, the COA said the city violated Section 287 of Republic Act 7160 which provides that “each local government unit shall appropriate in its annual budget no less than 20 percent of its annual internal revenue allotment for development projects.”

The P550.42 million local development fund is divided into P212,306,004 social development, P212,339,504 economic development and P125, 774,144 environmental management to cater basic services, socio economic and environmental activities.

State Auditor and audit team leader Ma. Daisy Bercede pointed out that the 20-percent IRA should have been utilized to “help achieve desirable socio-economic development and environmental outcomes.”

Following an inquiry with the Department of Engineering and Public Works, Bercede disclosed that the non-implementation was attributed to the lack of specific plans and program of works (POWs) and to no proper coordination with the Bids and Awards Committee, DEPW and City Council in the implementation of the projects.

However, Rama disagreed with COA’s report.

Rama said it was a very sweeping statement from COA to declare that none of the projects were implemented, saying “with all due respect, that the same is not entirely accurate.”

He pointed out that 32 or 25-percent of the total AIP projects amounting to P135.2 million were already bidded out and set for implementation.

These are for the improvement of the senior citizens center at the South Road Properties (P1 million), construction of evacuation center in Barangay Pamutan (P4.4 million), renovation of cultural center (P1.9 million), construction of drainage system in barangay Agsungot (P1 milion), river bank construction in Barangay Bonbon (P4 million), construction of drainage in barangay Buot (P4 million), road concreting with drainage in Barangay Guba (P8.3 million), road concreting in Barangay Binaliw (P20 million), among others.

Rama said 25 others are scheduled for bidding (P106.37 million), 20 are being processed (P63.52 million) and 36 are in pre-paration for program of works and estimates (P157.23 million.)

The project implementation, he explained, covers the bidding process and stages and is not solely based on the actual commencement of projects.

The stages include site identification and verification; survey and investigation; detailed engineering; plans and program preparation and approval; ABC preparation and approval; procurement process or bidding; contract preparation and review; council’s approval; and actual project implementation.

 “Each step/stage is a process in itself and entails and enormous amount of time and effort not to mention the offices and officials/personnel involved. Thus, we submit that each project in the AIP should be evaluated in each of these implementation processes and steps before the same be considered as not yet implemented,” he added.

Moreover, Rama said there are other factors affecting the project implementation such as inappropriate or inavailability of project or construction site or right-of-way problems; project duplication; and some provision indicated in the budget ordinance which affects, restricts or relate to the actual implementation particularly lump sum appropriations.

“We would like to assure you that the city government is cognizant of the need to have the projects implemented soonest time possible and is constantly finding ways to hasten their implementation,” Rama said. — (FREEMAN)

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