Saturday, September 22, 2018

Answer to COA: Oslob only gets portion of fees

STATE auditors may have called their attention for their alleged mishandling of earnings from their whale shark watching activities, but Oslob officials clarified that they only get a portion of it.

In an interview yesterday, Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak told SunStar Cebu that the town is generating almost P1 million daily from the whale shark watching services in Barangay Tan-awan but the Municipal Government doesn’t get all of it.

Only 30 percent of the daily income, which comes from foreign and local tourists, goes to the local government unit while the bulk of it (70 percent) goes to the local fishing association and the barangay, he said.

The town collects different fees for foreign and local tourists.

But Tumulak clarified that the town doesn’t always reach the P1-million target collection daily as it would still depend on the number of tourist visiting.

He, however, admitted that the town’s tourism industry has improved following the closure of Boracay Island. They noted an increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting in June and August.

In their 2017 audit report, the Commission on Audit told Oslob’s officials to deposit promptly the town’s earnings from whale shark watching activities, which averaged P1.2 million a day last year.

State auditors pointed out that it sometimes took local officials 18 days, when the collections had amounted to more than P20 million, before the funds deposited in an authorized government depository bank.

With the delays, the state auditors said that the town risked losing the amounts due to fire, theft or misuse. (JKV)