COA: Public funds wasted in P3B ports construction

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MANILA, Philippines—The government spent more than P3 billion to construct ports from 2009 to 2012, but only 38 out of the 52 ports are operational, thereby wasting public funds, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report.

The 2012 COA audit report on the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) showed that 38 ports that are operational remained underutilized and unutilized since their completion.

As a result, these ports were unable to generate income “enough to defray the cost of providing facilities and services, and realize reasonable returns on the assets employed,” the COA said.

No income at all

The COA described an unutilized facility as one that is “not being used and there is no income generated at all” from its operations.

According to COA, the 10 underutilized ports earned only P1.25 million during the period covered by the audit.

Ports that are operating but have failed to generate enough profits are the Pantao Port in Libon; Nato, in Sangay, Camarines Sur; Aroroy, Masbate; Cawayan, Masbate; Orion Port Terminal, Bataan; Dingalan Terminal Port, Nueva Ecija; and Rizal Port, Palawan.

According to the COA report, the PPA officials cited several reasons for the ports’ poor performance like the takeover of ports by local government units (LGUs), allowing the PPA little participation in the handling of port services.

The report, however, cited poor planning for the port projects before government approved them and released funds for their construction.

Waning interest

“Lack or waning interest of some of the LGUs and the absence of port zone delineation have made the port unattractive to investors,” the COA said.

The report also noted the deterioration of the peace and order situation in Puerto Princesa as the main reason for the nonoperation of the port there.

The lack of or deteriorating roads as well as the lack of a source of potable water and no supply of electricity were also cited as reasons why it was difficult for the PPA to operate there.

On the other hand, audit examinations conducted on 45 ports in 2012 alone indicated that only 10 ports were operational despite the fact that the government spent P1.25 billion for their construction.

The other 35 ports have either ceased operations or were never opened for public use.

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