DAP fell short of objective–COA
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Audit (COA) has spoken: The controversial economic stimulus program of the Aquino administration fell short of its promise of accelerating spending.
Contrary to the claims of the government, the COA said the goal of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was not met “due to delay/slow/or nonrelease of funds to project proponents.”
In its annual financial report for 2013, the COA also ordered four government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to return more than P2.4 billion in unused DAP funds to the national coffers after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the savings-impounding measure as unconstitutional.
Malacañang has defended the DAP, saying it was instrumental in stimulating the economy, which over the past two years posted the highest growth rates in the region after China.
The comprehensive 381-page report on the financial status of 596 GOCCs was submitted by COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza to President Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Sept. 29.
The four GOCCs—National Dairy Authority (NDA), National Electrification Administration (NEA), Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) and Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA)—were also directed to account for more than P1.38 billion in DAP funds that remained unliquidated.
“(The) DAP objective of accelerating government spending was not attained due to delay/slow/or nonrelease of funds to project proponents,” the COA said in its report.
It also discovered “nonliquidation of funds released to project proponents” of the DAP-funded programs implemented by the NDA, NEA and PIDS.
COA auditors said the GOCCs should “return the unutilized DAP funds to the Bureau of the Treasury pursuant to the pronouncement of the Supreme Court that the DAP is unconstitutional.”
Voting 13-0 with one abstention, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in July Aquino’s prerogative to treat the savings of government agencies as discretionary funds under the Office of the President.
Hurt by the landmark ruling, the President lambasted the Supreme Court for its supposed “judicial overreach” in the affairs of the national government.
In its report, the COA said the NEA, which received nearly P2.6 billion, got the biggest chunk of DAP funds released to GOCCs.
However, the agency tasked with overseeing the government’s rural electrification program failed to account for more than P998 million in financial assistance it released to project proponents.
The PIDS was ordered to return P560 million of its DAP allocation and to liquidate funds it released to its project partners amounting to more than P296.8 million.
The COA said the NDA, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, must account for more than P87 million in DAP funds the agency had provided to project proponents and refund over P167.4 million to the National Treasury.
The COA also asked the PFDA to return to the national government P98 million of its DAP allocation that remained unused.
The annual financial report was meant to “serve as a useful instrument to address the advocacy of various groups such as the media, civil society, people’s organizations, nongovernment organizations and even the international community in attaining transparency in government agencies,” the COA said.
It noted that the GOCCs, some of which were allegedly used by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as conduits in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, had combined total assets of almost P9.3 trillion and total liabilities of more than P7 trillion.
“In general, the excess of total assets over total liabilities indicates the ability of GOCCs to deliver expected services and benefits to the public, its constituents and various stakeholders,” the COA said.
“Further, the GOCCs’ net worth signifies the amount that is available for claims of the government as its major stakeholder,” it added.
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