ARMM asked to use DOST funds

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Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds amounting to P23.150 million intended for Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were not fully used, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

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This was because the regional offices that received the funds have no administrative and political jurisdiction in the areas of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao, state auditors said.

“In CY [calendar year]2013, the DBM released funds amounting to P23.150 million. The release of the amounts to the regional offices was intended to address the lack of economic activities in the ARMM provinces which are classified as among the poorest in the country and fast-tracking economic interventions thru DAP would help spur economic activities in the ARMM Provinces,” the COA stated in a 2013 audit report on the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

DBM is the Department of Budget and Management.

Based on the audit report, only P3.87 million was spent out of the P13.35 million released to Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), thus leaving a balance of P9.475 million.

In Region X (Northern Mindanao), only P1.44 million was used from the P3.6 million released. Auditors said the balance, P2.16 million, was already returned to the National Treasury.

And in Region XII (Soccsksargen), P5.32 was spent out of the P6.2 million released.

State auditors attributed the low percentage of implementation of the projects to several reasons.

“DOST RO [regional office]IX, X and XII are not familiar with the sites where the projects were to be implemented,” they said.

DOST is the Department of Science and Technology.

There was also non-submission of the required project proposal and no ample time to evaluate the project proposal, much less to implement them.

Auditors also pointed out “the duplication of functions by both DOST X and DOST-ARMM” and “absence of direct responsibility in who will enforce the terms and conditions of the MOA [memorandum of agreement].”

The projects were not integrated into the regular program of the three regional offices, they said.

COA recommended that the Regional Monitoring Team needs to “communicate to the DOST Central Office the difficulties it encountered in implementing projects in areas outside its political jurisdictions and make known to DOST Central Office the possible consequences of this scheme, which is deterrent to good governance, so that this could be averted in the future, thus, preventing more wastage of government funds.”

The team was also told to ensure that the project proposal and its implementation are effectively evaluated, and to “give the widest dissemination and dispersal of projects and opportunities.”

COA also urged the Program/Project Leader to coordinate with DOST-ARMM so that the latter’s manpower and personnel can be tapped and mobilized in monitoring the implementation of projects.

DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program is a nationwide strategy to encourage and assist micro, small and medium enterprises as well as private and government institutions to implement technological innovations to enhance their competitiveness and support economic development in the countryside.

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