P14.4-million grant for book authors unused since 2019 – COA
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the National Book Development Board (NBDB) for not using the interest income from its trust fund in awarding publication grants to Filipino book authors.
In a report filed last year and released on Friday, state auditors said the board currently had an accumulated interest income of P14,140,333.08 from its National Book Development Trust Fund, which had been untapped since 2019.
Broken down, the P14.14 million consisted of P4.87 million in 2019, P4.82 million in 2020 and P4.45 million in 2021.
The COA said “no grants were awarded for three years since 2019 for the support and promotion of Filipino authorship.” It noted further that the objective for establishing the trust fund was precisely to support Filipino authorship especially in the field of science and technology.
The “objective to grant awards to fund … eligible Filipino authors” is mandated under Republic Act No. 9521, or the National Book Development Trust Fund Act, the COA said.
Under that 2009 law, a trust fund “is hereby established exclusively for the support and promotion of Filipino authorship especially in science and technology and in subject areas wherein locally authored books are either few or nonexistent.”
The law, which identifies the NBDB as administrator of the trust fund, further states that its “interest … shall be awarded as grants to promote Filipino authorship and to support the completion of local manuscripts or research works for publication.”
The COA recommended that the board “create/revive relevant programs … to ensure the efficient and effective utilization of the interest income earned from the fund, so that the purpose [for its] establishment … will be attained.”
The NBDB was also directed to submit to state auditors its final updated guidelines on the fund’s implementation.
The agency, in response to the COA, said there were no activities last year in connection with the trust fund, adding that it “need[ed] to come up with a new stimulus package” for the book publishing industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apart from no publishing grants awarded, state auditors found no other projects or activities in 2021 in connection with the trust fund.
That year, the COA also noted that the board could not form an advisory committee to evaluate manuscript proposals.
The board said it submitted in April its draft calendar and draft guidelines on the fund’s use—which the COA acknowledged in its report.
The auditors also said the NBDB had otherwise utilized its P97.37 million budget last year, leaving only P1.04 million left unused.
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