DoH rapped for slow pace of foreign loan-funded projects
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health has been slow in using loans for foreign-assisted projects, delaying the implementation of vital health programs for the poor and causing the government P79 million in commitment fees from 2007 to 2010, according to the Commission on Audit.
Commitment fees are charged by lenders when recipients fail to disburse funds on schedule.
The COA said that as of 2010, several DoH projects were either delayed or unimplemented, and the loans and grants were not completely utilized.
The reasons for these include the discontinuance or changes in the planned activities, the absence of officials to closely supervise the programs and the failure to comply with documentary requirements on the release of funds.
The COA said the DoH “has a low absorptive capacity as far as the implementation of FAPs (foreign assisted projects), which resulted in non-attainment of the intended objectives.”
The DoH assured the COA that it was reviewing and monitoring the projects regularly, and a coordinator has been hired to monitor the progress of the projects. It has also doubled its efforts to implement the planned activities and is closely coordinating with its partners and technical coordinators to resolve implementation issues.
In its 2010 report on the DoH released recently, the audit agency said the FAPs include a women’s health and safe motherhood project intended to bring reproductive health care to indigent women; a health reform program to increase utilization of health services by the poor and to increase their financial protection from the costs of health care; a program to assist the DOH in increasing the use of affordable and financially sustainable health services; and a project to improve the poor’s accessibility to quality and equitable essential health services.
The COA found that fund disbursements for some of the projects were lower than what was targeted, and there was delayed procurement and late submission of deliverables by consultants, as well as delayed utilization of the loan.
Some activities were also discontinued because these were already undertaken by other funded programs. Training for certain projects were not conducted because a necessary curriculum was not completed, while consultants were not hired because of bidding problems.
The project officers informed the COA it also took time to produce a final list of indigents because of different databases used. Delays in completing the required documentation prior to the release of funds also hampered the projects.
Among the COA recommendations were: the preparation of a database of all existing programs to avoid duplication of activities; the active involvement of technical units; the implementation of work and financial plan with minimal changes; the assistance of partner local government units in submitting the required loan documents; and the strengthening of coordination with other project development partners for the prompt resolution of funding and implementation issues.
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