37 infra projects in Cebu delayed

(Photo grabbed from Commission on Audit's Facebook page)

POOR planning and sloppy engineering studies have delayed the implementation of P422.74 million worth of infrastructure projects in Cebu Province, state auditors said.

In its 2018 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) has found that poor planning and insufficient conduct of detailed engineering activities have resulted in the "non-achievement during the year of the intended desirable socio-economic development and environmental outcomes of the Province."

Thirty-seven infrastracture projects with a total contract price of P422,745,919.47 were funded from Capitol's 20 percent development fund (DF).

The projects included the rehabilitation of waterworks system, road concreting works and construction of facilities, among others.

Joint Memorandum Circular 2017-1 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Budget and Management says that the 20 percent DF shall be used to fund the local government unit's (LGU) priority development projects, as indicated in its approved local development plans and Annual Investment Program (AIP).

It also says that the local chief executive must ensure that the 20 percent DF is "optimally utilized to help achieve the desirable socio-economic development and environmental outcomes of the LGU."

But upon perusal of the Capitol's 2018 AIP, COA found that infrastructure projects to be implemented under the DF were presented in lump sums and described in generic terms.

"The projects that make up the lump sum amounts, as well as the corresponding estimated costs of each project were not specifically identified. The same descriptions and lump sum amounts were presented in the approved budget, Project Procurement Management Plan and Annual Procurement Plan," the COA report said.

Under Local Budget Circular 112 the AIP shall include, among others, a detailed description of the program project activity.

It should specify the start and finish dates of the project as these details will be the basis for work plans and serve as guide in procurement planning.

"The lack of sufficient details in the foregoing plans is a manifestation of management's laxity in enforcing the early conduct of detailed engineering activities...," COA said.

"This was also shown by the realignment of the lump sum amounts to specific projects only during the year, which has prevented the early conduct of the procurement of the contracts."

COA also noted that had the projects been specifically identified and authorized in the approved budget, procurement of the contract to implement the projects could have proceeded without need for further authorization.

Of the more than 30 infrastructure projects, two were marked "physically complete" while three others were 95 percent complete.

These included the installation of Level III waterworks system in Toledo City, renovation of the Farmer-Scientist Training Program Research Development Extension Center in Argao town, improvement and repair of Larsian on B. Rodriguez St., construction of Farmer Trading Post in Medellin and road concreting works in Pinamungajan.

Projects under suspension, on the other hand, included the Cebu Provincial Sports Complex in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City; Cebu Provincial Skills Training Center Building in the City of Naga; and several concreting of provincial roads, among others.

These findings were brought up to the Province through Audit Observation Memorandum 2019-002 (2018), dated Jan. 30, 2019.

During the exit conference, the Office of the Provincial Engineer said they usually submit their budget containing pre-identified infrastructure projects.

However, other departments also submit their own proposed infra projects, resulting in delayed procurement.

As to delays in project implementation, problems of road-right-of-way acquisition were the responsibility of the LGU concerned.

Also, the grant of time extensions was pointed out as an "effect of climate change on construction activities."

State auditors recommend that concerned Capitol departments ensure the conduct of the necessary detailed engineering activities during the planning and budgeting process.

They also recommend including in the plans and annual budget the specific detailed breakdown of infrastructure projects to be funded out of the 20 percent DF. (RTF)


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