By Ben Rosario
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) officials may be held liable for their failure to liquidate some P536 million in funds it transferred to various implementing agencies (IAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) last year.
In the recently released 2018 BFAR annual audit report, COA said the huge amount of unliquidated funds is not yet included in the P1.658 billion in still unjustified expenditures of the agency in the previous years.
COA called on BFAR officials to strictly comply with government audit rules and regulations concerning the transfer and liquidation of government funds.
“Out of the P608,805,432.00 fund transfers during the year, P536,126,034.00 or 88 percent remained unliquidated. Also, there were still unliquidated fund transfers of P1,658,170,387.45 or 52 percent of prior year balance P3,176,708,660.00,” COA stated in the report.
Audit records showed that additional fund transfers were granted by BFAR (Central Office (CO), Regional Field Office (RFO) VI, and Foreign-Assisted Projects (FAP) to IAs despite the outstanding unliquidated balance.
State audit examiners revealed that in RFOs VI and VII, P1.980 million of the P1.658 billion unliquidated funds from previous years are from the P20.737 million Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds sourced from Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and BFAR-CO in 2011.
It was recalled that the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the DAP fund that was implemented by the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Of the P20.737 million, P7.515 million was received by RFO VI from DBM and the unliquidated fund pertained to the transfer of money to Aklan State University which requested for extension of fund utilization.
On the other hand, P13.222 million of the same P20.727 million was received by RFO VII from BFAR-CO and was downloaded to four state universities, namely: Cebu Technological University, Bohol Island State University-Clarin Campus, Negros Oriental State University and Bohol Island State University-Candijay Campus.
In seeking the immediate liquidation of the funds, COA stated that as the source of the money, BFAR has the duty to monitor the implementation of projects financed by it.
It added that BFAR failed to closely monitor timely liquidation from the IAs or NGO which resulted in the increase and accumulation of the unliquidated balances.
BFAR was also asked to direct the accountants of the concerned offices to coordinate with the IAs and NGOs concerned to submit the liquidation of reports and documents of the fund transfers and return the unutilized balances for completed projects.
The legal officers of the respective BFAR offices were also ordered to resort to legal modes of settlement of accountabilities in case the IAs and NGOs failed to settle the liquidation of fund transfers.