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COA flags Duterte admin's low spending of foreign aid

The Duterte administration used only P299.75 million out of the P74.55 billion Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans it received in 2017 from foreign lenders, the Commission on Audit said.

The COA said the amount represents 10 ODA loans received by the government last year, but 99.60 percent of these foreign aid remain unwithdrawn thus affecting the timely completion of 17 projects.

"Of the net loan commitments, only P299.75 million were availed leaving undrawn amount of P74.55 billion. This amount represents 99.60 percent of the total net loan commitments for the loans contracted during the year," the COA said in its consolidated audit report on ODA programs and projects.

The low utilization of ODA loans forced the government to pay "commitment fees," or penalties, worth more than P230.17 million for "delayed withdrawal/availment of loans."

"Completion of 17 projects within the loan period is unlikely considering the reported project status. The benefits then to be derived therefrom will be delayed in addition to payments to commitment fees," the COA said.

A lender or creditor can charge a commitment fee for keeping its credit line for a borrower who has yet to fully utilize its loan.

Under the ODA Act of 1996, an ODA is a loan or a grant received by the Philippines for the promotion of sustainable social and economic development.

The law states that these foreign assistance must be a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and another country whom it has diplomatic or trade relations, member states of the United Nations, or other international lending institutions.

Delayed projects

Based on COA findings, seven pet projects of the Department of Transportation were delayed.

The Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila Project has the highest value among the DOTr projects after the program received a ¥43.252-billion (P20.796 billion) loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the government's largest creditor.

The loan was intended for the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension and the LRT Line 2 Masinag Extension, but COA said a "slow procurement process" and the "low utilization/availment of loan proceeds" forced the accumulation of penalties.

Other DOTr projects named in the COA report include:

  • Puerto Prinsesa Airport Development Project
  • New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project
  • New Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Systems Development Project
  • Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project Phases 1 and 2
  • Cebu Bus Rapid Transit System
  • Philippine Coast Guard Capability Development Project

The COA also flagged four delayed projects under the Department of Agriculture. These are the agribusiness, irrigation and farm-to-market road subprojects under the Philippine Rural Development Project and for the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project.

It said the DA has yet to spend 74 percent, or P16,322 million, of the P21.946 million funding it received for the construction of the new National Agricultural and Fishery Council and the Livestock Development Council building.

The COA further found lapses in the procurement of Universal Testing Machines for the National Roads Improvement and Management Project of the agency, which "deprived the intended recipients of the immediate benefits that could be derived therefrom, as well as, incurrence of unnecessary expenses."

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services and the National Community-Driven Development Project of the Social Welfare department was questioned for its effectivity and accomplistment rating, respectively.

The other delayed projects included in the COA report are the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (DENR), Health Sector Policy Support Programme (DOH), Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage (NIA), Fish Coral project (BFAR). —KBK, GMA News