COA urges Ilocos Sur to address adverse findings on P3.65-billion disbursements

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Over P3.65 billion in disbursements made in 2019 and earlier may mature into disallowances unless the Ilocos Sur provincial government settles the audit suspensions and recover the unjustified amounts “from persons liable.”

In the recently released 2019 annual audit report of the Commission on Audit, the agency made a number of adverse audit observations that included the ballooning loan obligation now reaching P1.95 billion, the issuance of notices of disallowances for some P60.3 million in questionable disbursements and infractions of government auditing and accounting rules found in 22 procurement transactions on goods amounting to P996.08 million.

The COA audit team, headed by Regional Director Michael Bacani, called on Governor Ryan Luis Singson and the provincial accounting office (PAO) to give “sufficient attention” to the notice of suspension issued for P3,650,179,710.16 worth of financial transactions.

“Also the non-settlement of disallowances deprived the provincial government of the beneficial use of amounts that should have been recovered from persons liable,” the COA report added.

Nevertheless, auditors cited the PAO for “continually exerting efforts to settle the suspensions.”

Auditors also lamented the increasing loan obligation of the provincial government resulting from the accumulation of more penalties and interests.”

As of 2019, outstanding loan obligations have reached P1,953,667,194.92. Audit examiners warned that loan arrears may result in “additional legal obligations to the disadvantage of the local government unit and its constituents.”

“Infractions in the implementation of the provision of the revised implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9184 were revealed in the audit of the 22 procurement transactions on goods worth P996,081,687.33, thus, there was no complete adherence to the principles of transparency, competitiveness and accountability in the procurement activities of the agency,” the COA reported.

Questioned transactions included the purchase for fertilizers, hybrid seeds, tractors, sprayer medicines, and medical, dental and laboratory supplies and equpment.

On the other hand, mandatory documents for 2019 transactions totaling P94.06 million lacked the approval of Singson. Instead, the documents were signed by the acting provincial administrator.

But while auditors demanded immediate settlement and justification of questioned transactions, they also lamented the failure of the provincial government to fully spend the P277.22 million development fund for various projects for Ilocos Sur folk.

“The utilization of the 20% DF for the CY 2019 was only 61.23 % of the total appropriation of P277,227,390 or P169,746,743.83, leaving an unutilized/unexpended balance of P107,480,655.17, thus depriving the intended beneficiaries of the benefits that could be derived therefrom,” reported COA.

Meanwhile, state auditors also raised doubt over the “validity, legality, and propriety” of the disbursements of funds granted to the Ilocos Sur province under Republic Act 7171 or the Tobacco Excise Tax fund.

On post audit, deficiencies were noted in the disbursement of P1,480,355,737.34 in tobacco fund.

The provincial accountant vowed to comply with the COA requirements regarding the deficiencies.

In its technical audit of the funds for the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces Projects,, COA noted the “existence of longitudinal, transfer, crocodile and hairline cracks and major/minor scaling in some portions of the concrete pavement of seven CMGP road projects.

“We recommended that the provincial governor require the project engineers to frequently conduct monitoring of projects and strictly supervise their implementation to ensure that the projects are accomplished in accordance with the plans, specifications and quality standards,” auditors stated.