By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has affirmed audit examination findings indicating that eight infrastructure projects implemented in Tacloban City, Leyte have been overpriced by at least P33 million.
In a decision on the automatic review of the notice of disallowance issued by the COA-Regional Office No. VIII, the COA-Commission Project junked the appeal on the notice of disallowance sought by District Engineer Arnaldo R. Bonifacio of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Tacloban City Sub-District Engineering Office (TCSDEO).
Records of the case showed that the COA-ROVIII affirmed the disallowances of two infrastructure projects amounting to P2.08 million but reduced the number of disallowances on the remaining six projects from P43,366,896 to P33,061,557.30.
The audit team noted that the contract costs for the projects “were unreasonable” based on the results of the technical evaluation conducted by COA Technical and Information Technology Service.
Auditors also found that the pertinent documents supporting the payments were not signed while final payments for the projects did not pass through pre-audit.
“The disallowances were issued because the Approved Budget for the Contract and the Contract cost were higher than the COA Evaluated Cost based on the evaluation of the contract documents by the TechITS,” the COA-CP headed by COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo noted.
In his appeal, Bonifacio cited the “escalated cost of Bituminous Concrete Surface Coarse and Portland Cement Concrete Pavement as the reason for the higher cost of the projects.
He explained that since the projects were implemented in “very busy thoroughfares” deployment and mobility of workers and equipment resulted in increased cost of fuel.
The escalating cost of other items such as the Informative Signs and Barricades and Excavation of Base materials also contributed to the higher construction expenditures, claimed Bonifacio.
In its ruling the COA-CP said the total contract price should be equal to or less than the total COA estimate “plus ten percent in order to sustain a finding of reasonableness, otherwise, the contract price will be deemed excessive.”
“IN this case, even with the application of the 10 percent allowable variance, the contract price is still excessive, as shown in the revised computation,” the review panel stressed.
The COA_CP added: “Since the contract price is beyond the limit of what was allowed by COA, it is deemed excessive as provided under Item 3.3 of COA Circular No. 85-55-A. This Circular defines excessive expenditures as expenses in excess of reasonable limits.”
“All told, this Commission finds the disallowances and affirms the modification in some NDs” the three-man panel stated.