Where did P25B in Malampaya funds go? Execs grope for answers | Inquirer News
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Where did P25B in Malampaya funds go? Execs grope for answers

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 07:32 AM August 18, 2017

In explaining the P25-billion disparity in the balance of the Malampaya fund, the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) said P20.95 billion of the figure represented unrecorded “Saro releases in prior years taken up in books in 2017,” referring to special allotment release orders.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in a letter to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate who sought an explanation for the conflicting balance of the Department of Energy (DOE)-Malampaya fund in two official records, cited the bureau’s “update” of the difference.

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BTr told state auditors that only P154.92 million was unreconciled as of July 31 in the balance of the controversial fund per the bureau’s status report and account books.

Per BTr’s explanation to COA, P4.039 billion of the P25-billion difference was accounted for on March 9 and attributed to “corporate taxes on banked gas and the deficiency in excise tax charged against DOE Regular Account classified under DOE Malampaya Special Account.”

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This referred to corporate taxes “passed on to government to comprise part of its share in the fund,” according to Zarate.

‘Why is it unrecorded?’

But what was more interesting was the P20.95 billion that was “reconciled” on May 25 after taking into account Saro releases in previous years that were taken up only this year, the Makabayan lawmaker said.

“It’s so large. It is unrecorded. Why is it unrecorded?” Zarate told a press briefing, noting that in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that the Malampaya fund could not be used anywhere besides government energy projects for exploitation and development.

“Previous administrations played around with this fund, using it to buy junk boats and weapons,” he said.

Zarate confronted Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was at the House, about what he knew of where the fund could have gone.

Cusi said: “We are not a custodian of the fund. We just collect. We are not even a party to the disbursement decision.”

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COA, in its annual audit of the BTr for 2016, cited sizable discrepancies between two records of the fund, which represented government royalties from the offshore natural gas project in the Camago-Malampaya Reservoir in the West Philippine Sea.

Figures don’t match

Based on the BTr’s report under the title “Department of Energy (DOE)-Malampaya Special Account in the General Fund 151,” a total of P232 billion was remitted to the national treasury by the DOE from 2002 to 2016.

Some P42 billion was released from the fund to finance government energy projects, leaving a balance of P189 billion, the agency said.

But the figures did not match those in subsidiary ledgers kept by the BTr’s National Cash Accounting Division (NCAD) under the tag “Cash-Treasury/Agency Deposit Special Account-DOE-Malampaya.”

NCAD records showed that remittances and releases from the Malampaya fund amounted to P236 billion and P21 billion, respectively, over the same 12-year period, leaving a balance of P214 billion, COA said.

State auditors said the disparity gave rise to an “unreconciled fund balance between the two records” totaling P25 billion after subtracting total releases from total remittances.

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TAGS: Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Bureau of Treasury, Commission On Audit, Malampaya fund
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