The government is quick to disburse allocations to senators and congressmen, but it is taking its own sweet time releasing funds for high-priority projects like farm-to-market roads.
Under a P325 million program funded by the Japanese government, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is supposed to complete by the end of last year nine farm-to-market roads, five potable water systems, three communal irrigation systems, and two post-harvest facilities.
It is also required to conduct 15 training seminars in the use of the facilities for farmer-beneficiaries.
However, according to a study conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA), the program is only five-percent complete.
The delay is blamed on “revision of project proposals, failure to submit detailed designs and programs of work on time, and late conduct of bidding.”
All this resulted in the non-utilization of the loan.
Of the total P325-million loan facility, only P18.39 million was spent for seven projects. The amount represents only five percent of available fund.
The loan became available in April 2008 and will be withdrawn in April 2017.
Of the 34 projects under DAR’s Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project Phase III, only seven have been completed: a potable water system, a farm-to-market road, and five seminars at a cost of P2.5 million), P15.82 million, and P64,050, respectively.
The provincial offices of DAR in Masbate, Catanduanes and Albay and its regional office in the Caraga region have been tasked to implement the projects since they are the principal beneficiaries.
Auditors observed that funds have already been released to these implementing agencies. It turned out, however, that the sites where the projects were to be constructed had not yet been identified. For this reason, the project proposals were ordered revised and made up-to-date.
Today the designs are still being revised and the bidding for their construction has yet to be conducted.
Once these requirements are completed, the DAR chief will have to review and approve them, adding to more delay in the implementation.
At the DAR Masbate provincial office, P61.59 million of the fund remain unutilized. In Albay, only P15.89 million of the P183.44 million fund has been utilized. .
The auditors told DAR officials to expedite the process but warned them to observe pertinent rules and regulations.