COA warns vs ‘thoughtless’ planning after Zambo project goes bustBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Audit (COA) on Saturday warned government corporations against thoughtless project planning, after it found that more than P6 million worth of structures constructed by the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (Zamboecozone) for the relocation of the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm remained idle in 2011.
The COA said the planned transfer of the penal farm in Curuan, Zamboanga City, did not push through because other necessary structures at the relocation site were not completed.
The ecozone authority, in response, told the audit agency that it was working to complete the relocation site and was taking care of the finished structures. It also explained the reasons for the non-completion of the other buildings.
The unused structures worth P6.655 million consist of a duplex building and land development, the COA said in its 2011 report.
The ecozone had also spent P2.125 million in mobilization fees for contractors for the prison dormitory and administration building for the relocation site and other structures. The construction of the two buildings, however, was discontinued.
In all, the ecozone had spent a total of P10.37 million for the planned relocation of the penal farm.
But the penal farm’s relocation did not push through because the necessary structures at the new site were not completed, the COA said. This indicated “inadequate planning” that led to unwarranted government spending, it added.
“Considering the material amount that the Authority had spent from the budgeted funds, the discontinuance or termination of these two projects and the abandonment of the completed structures is disadvantageous to the government,” it said.
It said the Zamboanga economic zone authority should have made proper plans before embarking on the project to ensure that its funds would be used wisely.
“We recommended that adequate planning be made on projects to be implemented. Enough preparation should be in place to avoid unwarranted spending of government resources,” it said.
Remedial measures should be taken to keep the completed structures operational and to prevent their deterioration, it added.
In response, the Zamboanga ecozone authority explained to the COA that the relocation project and the construction of other buildings were discontinued because of several reasons, including the limited funds released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The ecozone authority also said the DBM had not approved the requested P200 million supplemental funding needed to complete the relocation of the penal farm to the proposed site. The Department of Justice and Bureau of Corrections were also unwilling to give up the San Ramon penal colony property to the Zamboanga ecozone, it added.
The ecozone authority said it was implementing measures to prevent the completed structures from deteriorating. It has also been holding talks with authorities to get appropriate funding to complete the relocation site.
The COA said the project should not have been started if funds were inadequate.
“From our point of view, the relocation projects should have not been started by Zamboecozone knowing in the first place that the funds appropriated were not enough to complete the relocation projects costing P200 million to avoid the unwarranted spending of government resources,” it said.
Meanwhile, the COA also said the ecozone authority should take back the P2.125 million mobilization fee it paid to the contractors of two buildings, the construction of which were later discontinued.
The ecozone authority said it had sent demand letters to the contractors seeking the return of the money, and the contractors had signified their willingness to return the funds.