THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has P1.4 billion to spend for bridges, roads and infrastructure projects but not a cent was used.
State auditors of the Commission on Audit (COA) disclosed in their report on the regional autonomous government of ARMM that for 2010 to 2012, the five provinces and two cities in ARMM has an unspent P1.4 billion for infrastructure.
Details showed that for the second tranche fund in 2010, only P130.83 million was used out of the P191-million budget. This means that more than half of 68.5 percent remained untouched.
For 2011, out of the P1-billion fund, a total of P607.36 million was not used as of 2012 yearend or a total of 60.74 percent of the cash still intact.
For fiscal year 2012, of the P1-billion approved appropriations, only P150 million was released to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) of ARMM.
Only P30.57 million of the P150 million was used, leaving a balance of P969.42 million.
Because of measly spending and allotment, the ARMM has still P1.4 billion which could have been used for access to water, farm-to-market roads, and bridges, considering that the region continues to be one of the poorest areas in the country.
COA said that the delay is due to the method required by the Budget department for the release of the Notice of Cash Allocation to DPWH-ARMM.
Before funds are released, DPWH-ARMM is required to submit to the Budget department an accomplishment report or statement of work accomplished, which is verified by COA.
However, the audit team admitted that it “takes several weeks for COA to validate the accomplishment of these projects,” because of geographical constraints, weather and sea conditions, peace and order situation in the area, and the availability of validating COA engineers.
Nonetheless, auditors said that continuous delay in the implementation of infrastructure projects would result in the accumulation of unimplemented projects for the coming years.
“[This may have] direct consequences in the economic well being of ARMM. These funds could have created job opportunities for ARMM populace and the economic benefits that can be derived of having a new infrastructure projects is delayed,” COA said.
Auditors asked ARMM officials to track the implementation of various infrastructure projects, especially projects intended for 2010 and 2011.
Pre-engineering activities, bidding process and the actual implementation of the projects should also be formulated for a shorter timetable, the audit team added.