MANILA, Philippines – At least 21 school building projects in Pampanga were delayed due to higher costs brought about by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
In an audit report released last April, the Commission on Audit (COA) said P81.83 million set aside for the projects intended for 11 municipalities was not enough anymore. The projects went back to the drawing board for budget adjustment.
“Our validation showed that the unimplemented projects were returned for the adjustment of cost in the program of works due to the TRAIN law which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 19, 2017,” state auditors said.
Only P5.805 million worth of projects involving the construction and repair of school buildings under the Special Education Fund (SEF) of Pampanga were completed in 2017. The original budget allotment amounted to P131.11 million.
Because of the delays in the construction of the school buildings, other supply procurement contracts were also affected.
State auditors, however, noted that the program of works for the 25 projects were already submitted to Pampanga’s provincial budget officer 3 months before the TRAIN law was signed.
The bureaucratic gridlock, COA said, caused the projects to be delayed and eventually affected by the new tax adjustments.
“As it turned out, according to the Provincial Budget Office, the allotment for the construction and maintenance of school was in lump sum without the corresponding supporting breakdown estimate for each of the 25 projects,” auditors said in their report.
Such delays also led to worsened conditions in the public school system, COA added. – Rappler.com