COA questions project delays

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has called the attention of the Cebu City Government to the implementation of 93 infrastructure projects worth a total of P629.45 million last year.

Not all of the projects have been implemented, COA said, and this has deprived the public of certain benefits.

In a three-page audit observation memorandum (AOM) dated Jan. 27, State Auditor IV and Audit Team Leader Daisy Bercede said that of the 93 projects, only 48 projects were implemented. These amounted to P228.66 million.

The implementation of 28 projects costing a combined P332.65 million is still ongoing, with 17 of them beyond their targeted date of completion.

Of these, she pointed out that one road concreting project with drainage amounting to P9.9 million was granted 150 extensions by the City, while the construction of a concrete pavement costing P3.1 million was granted 45 extensions.

COA further said that the implementation of 16 projects amounting to P64.6 million was suspended, while one project amounting to P3.5 million was terminated.

Projects

Based on records of the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), the terminated project is the P17.9-million channel improvement of the Basak San Nicolas Creek.

As for the suspended projects, these include the construction of a three-storey, six-classroom building in Barangay San Jose (P6.9 million); construction of a four-storey, 28-classroom building in Barangay Pahina Central (P21 million); improvement of N. Bacalso Ave. (P2.1 million); and road concreting in Barangay Busay (P3 million), among many others.

Invoking Section 2 of Presidential Decree 1445 or the State Audit Code of the Philippines, Bercede said it is the policy that all government resources should be managed, expended or used in accordance with law and regulations to ensure efficiency, economy and effectiveness of the government.

Section 17 of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or Local Government Code, on the other hand, requires local government units to provide basic services and infrastructure to address the needs of the public.

“The delay in the implementation of these projects undermines and deprives the targeted beneficiaries of its benefits that can be derived therefrom and defeated the purpose for which these were programmed and appropriated,” said Bercede.

Who’s watching?

Aside from the delay in the project implementation, Bercede said that when they reviewed the documents covering the transaction, they found evidence that the City Development Council (CDC) coordinated, monitored and evaluated the implementation of the projects with DEPW.

These functions, she said, are required under Section 109 of RA 7160.

COA asked the CDC to faithfully monitor and evaluate the implementation of the projects so that any cause of suspension or problems will be immediately addressed.

COA has likewise asked the City to fast-track the implementation of its ongoing and suspended projects and to explain the cause of its delays.

Sought for comment about COA’s observations, DEPW chief Atty. Jose Marie Poblete said the major reasons for the delay were road-right-of-way (RROW) problems.

“It should be emphasized at the outset that this has been considered during the project identification together with the concerned barangay officials who promised to take the lead role in the settlement of the RROW problems. However, during the implementation, some RROW problems would take time to resolve while some were not really resolved as in the case of the Basak San Nicolas Creek, resulting in the mutual contract termination,” he said.

Conditions

Other reasons for the delay, Poblete said, were unfavorable working conditions and overlapping or duplication of projects with the Department of Public Works and Highways, which now requires the issuance of a variation order.

In some projects, Poblete said they encountered difficulty in the delivery of materials to the project site while in some cases, the contractor failed to provide the needed manpower, equipment and materials for the project.

Poblete assured COA, though, that the projects and the work are regularly monitored and supervised by the engineers of DEPW.

He added that engineers regularly meet to follow up on the status of each City-funded project.

“At any rate, in all cases of delays of the contractor which are found to be unjustified, this office will also not hesitate to impose liquidated damages or even
recommend to the mayor for contract termination, when warranted,” he said.

Funds for the implementation of the 93 infrastructure projects are taken from the City’s budget in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
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