By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has recommended the closure of three tourism establishments being operated by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority in top tourist destinations in the country.
The grant of discounts and free-of-charge privileges to golfers playing at the Club Intramuros Golf Course have contributed to losses it incurred for several years now.
Aside from the CIGC, COA said two more entities being operated by TIEZA in tourist spots in the country are suffering huge losses.
These are the Balicasag Island Dive Resort (BIDR) and the Gardens of Malasag Eco Tourism Village.
In its 2017 annual audit report for TIEZA, COA also urged the agency to pursue legal action against airlines which have continuously failed to remit to government travel tax payments, now reaching P92.154 million.
COA also urged TIEZA to address the failure of the San Fabian municipal government to pay for the leased tourist inn and resort it has operated since 2006.
“The BIDR was not able to attain its targetted income for CY 2017, incurring a deficit amounting to P2.401 million because the appropriate sales and marketing strategies have not been properly instituted,” COA said.
According to state auditors the BIDR, CIGC, and GMETV suffered at least P28.42 million in losses.
“It was also noted that for the past three years, three of the five entities, namely BIDR, CIGC, and GMETV have continuously been incurring losses in the total amount of P105,086, thus, the continued operation of these three entities may no longer be advantageous to the government,” COA said.
However, the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel and the Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park (ZGCBP) earned profits reaching P12.9 million in 2017.
COA said the five firms under TIEZA were established by government to generate income but three of them have turned be financial burdens.
Auditors said TIEZA may consider “privatization, divestment or disposal” of losing entities as presciribed under COA Circualr No. 89-896.
The audit agency also urged TIEZA management to “practice diligence, prudence and proper control in the disposition of government funds.”
Ib the same audit report, COA questioned the “accuracy and completeness of the remittance” of travel tax collection made by some airline companies.
Auditors revealed that several airlines have incurred at least P92.154 million in unremitted travel tax assessments to TIEZA.
“The long holding period of collections deprives the Authority of immediate use of the funds for its operations and tourism-related projects, thus, such period of remittance is disadvantageous to the government,” audit examiners said.
COA backed TIEZA in taking necessary legal action against erring airlines.
COA also revealed that TIEZA has yet to receive rental fees for the Bagong Lipunan Lodge in San Fabian Beach that was leased by the municipal government of San Fabian.
“The Accounting Division informed us that since the inception of the contract on May 16, 2006, the Municipality of San Fabian has not remitted any share of income to the Authority,” said the audit agency.
A similar issue was raised against the Baguio-Benguet Chamber of Commerce and Industry which has not been paying rent for occupying a two-storey building owned by TIEZA in Baguio City.