Department of Agriculture

Dar on COA report: No irregularities in agriculture department

Ralf Rivas
Dar on COA report: No irregularities in agriculture department

Agriculture Secretary William Dar gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on August 9, 2021. ARMAN BAYLON/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Agriculture Secretary William Dar tells farmers that department officials 'do not and will not tolerate corruption'

Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Thursday, August 19, assured farmers and others in the industry that he does not tolerate corruption, as the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged billions of pesos in unspent and unliquidated funds in his department.

COA questioned the Department of Agriculture (DA) for failing to spend over P9.8 billion in its allocations, committing accounting errors, and accumulating unliquidated expenses amounting to P17.5 billion.

Dar said the DA received the COA report last July 2 and they are still consolidating information from concerned offices and units.

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

“We assure our clientele – farmers, fishers, livestock raisers, and agri-fishery industry stakeholders – and partners from the private sector, local government units, and international funding institutions, and the general public that we, at 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 aboveboard our planned programs and initiatives to increase the productivity and incomes of farmers and fisherfolk, and attain a food-secure and resilient Philippines.”

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COA questions DA for P9.8-billion unspent funds, wrong farmers’ lists

COA questions DA for P9.8-billion unspent funds, wrong farmers’ lists

In its annual audit report, COA said the DA was unable to utilize 16.6% of its P59-billion cash allocation for 2020, leading to the agency returning P9.8 billion to the national treasury instead of using it for programs intended for farmers.

The audit report also showed that the DA had unobligated funds amounting to P2.2 billion under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2, due to delays in procurement processes and non-implementation of projects.

COA also flagged unliquidated fund transfers and cash advances amounting to P17.5 billion – equivalent to 82.9% – to agencies, local government units, government-controlled corporations, and non-governmental organizations in 2020.

“Allowing cash advances to remain unliquidated for a long period of time exposes agency’s funds to possible misuse and probable loss of supporting documents which would render liquidation a lot more difficult,” the commission said.

COA found 7,146 duplicate names submitted by the DA to the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), resulting in the over-remittance of financial subsidies and food assistance amounting to P35.8 million.

It also found that 1,317 farmer beneficiaries who have claimed P3,000 in financial assistance amounting to P3.95 million were not included in the master list submitted by the DA to the DBP.

While COA noted that the errors did not result in double releases of funds, the overstatement likely led to farmers being bumped off from the cash aid program amid the pandemic. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.