UNPAID fishpond leases already reached P157.83 million, prompting auditors to demand the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to settle the immediate payment of the lagging obligations.
Audit report on the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that as of 2012 yearend, a total of P173.84 million is due to BFAR.
This staggering amount was only slashed with P16.01 million as BFAR only had a collection efficiency of 9.21 percent.
The unpaid rentals stemmed from the fishpond lease agreement between the DA and fishpond applicants for the use of public lands for fishpond development.
As the fishery agency, BFAR issued rules governing the lease and is tasked to collect the rental from the applicants.
Based on the list of collected rental fees, the aggregate amount of unpaid lease already reached P173.84 million as of 2012 yearend.
However, collections made by BFAR paled against the nine-digit unsettled obligation as the agency only collected P16.01 million.
This results in an uncollected rentals amounting to P157.83 million.
Six regional field office of BFAR comprise the unpaid rentals, to wit: Central Luzon (P3.36 million), Calabarzon (P34.16 million), Western Visayas (P31.56 million), Eastern Visayas (P6.9 million) and Zamboanga Peninsula (P81.84 million).
In its ocular inspection in Zamboanga, the corresponding contracts of lease of operators in default were not cancelled nor terminated.
Still BFAR “continued to compute and record the corresponding rentals due from the [lease agreements]which contributed to accumulation of receivable.”
Meanwhile in Western Visayas, ten out of 31 fishponds were not operated by the leaseholders. Instead, they were sub-leased to other people.
Rentals were also not paid on time due to losses incurred in the operation of fishponds. Most fishponds suffered from low production because of price volatility of milkfish (bangus), mud crabs (alimango) and prawn.
Soil quality also began to be acidic, which hampered the production of food, on top of erratic weather condition and slow growth of fingerlings.
“The abandoned, under developed and unutilized fishponds were known to BFAR” because auditors already raised this in 2011, the audit team said.
BFAR regional offices submitted a recommendation to its central office for the cancellation of lease agreements of those already determined to be abandoned and unutilized.