September 19, 2023

No irregularities in the agriculture department

Agriculture Secretary William Dar told farmers department officials “do not and will not tolerate corruption”

Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured farmers and others in the sector on Thursday (August 19) that he does not tolerate corruption, as the Audit Commission (COA) reported billions of pesos in unsuccessful funds. spent and not liquidated in his department.

The COA questioned the Ministry of Agriculture (DA) for not spending more than 9.8 billion pesos in its allocations, making accounting errors and accumulating unpaid expenses amounting to 17.5 billion of pesos.

Dar said the DA received the COA’s report on July 2 and is still consolidating information from affected offices and units.

“We still have until September 2, 2021 to satisfy the COA’s comments through our categorical responses,” Dar said in a Viber message to reporters.

“We assure our customers – farmers, fishermen, breeders and stakeholders in the agro-fishing industry – and our partners in the private sector, local communities, international financing institutions and the general public that we, within the OneDA family, do not and will not tolerate corruption, as we try to comply with all government accounting and auditing procedures and requirements, and continuously pursue our planned programs and initiatives to increase farmers’ productivity and income. and fishermen, and achieve food security and resilient Philippines. “

In its annual audit report, the COA said that the DA was unable to use 16.6% of its cash allocation of 59 billion pesos for 2020, which led the agency to repay 9.8 billion pesos to the national treasury instead of using it for programs for farmers.

The audit report also showed that the DA had uncommitted funds amounting to 2.2 billion pesos under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as the Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2, due to delays in procurement processes and non-execution of projects.

The COA also reported unliquidated fund transfers and cash advances amounting to 17.5 billion pesos – or 82.9% – to agencies, local government units, government-controlled companies and non-governmental organizations in 2020.

“Allowing cash advances to remain unliquidated for an extended period of time exposes agency funds to possible abuse and likely loss of supporting documentation, which would make liquidation much more difficult,” the commission said.

The COA found 7,146 duplicate names submitted by the DA to the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), resulting in the overpayment of financial grants and food aid amounting to 35.8 million pesos .

It also found that 1,317 beneficiary farmers who requested 3,000 pesos for financial assistance amounting to 3.95 million pesos were not included in the master list submitted by DA to DBP.

Although the COA noted that the errors did not result in a double release of funds, the overestimation likely led to farmers being excluded from the cash assistance program amid the pandemic. –