MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA), in its latest report, pointed out the poor performance of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), an agency scolded by President Benigno Aquino III himself back in June.
In a report released on October 30, COA expressed disappointment at NIA’s performance from 2009 to 2012, saying that it has mainly focused on rehabilitating and restoring existing irrigation facilities, instead of putting up new ones over the country’s identified irrigable lands.
Overall, NIA’s current level of irrigation development is “relatively low,” said COA. “A total of 1,450,601 hectares or 46.40% remain to be developed out of the estimated irrigable area of 3,126,340 hectares as of Dec 31, 2012,” stated the report.
According to COA, NIA has spent P67.18 billion out of its P134.811 billion budget from 2009 to 2012, but it has only reported 95,035 hectares of newly-irrigated farmlands – or just above half of its target in the same period:
These are the figures compiled by COA concerning its budget and expenditures:
|* in billions of pesos||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Total allocation to NIA
Auditors noted, however, that despite the huge amounts of money involved, newly-irrigated agricultural lands were below NIA’s own targets:
|* in hectares||2009||2010||2011||2012|
In addition, 104,810 hectares of previously irrigable farmlands have become “permanently non-restorable areas” due to agricultural areas being encroached through land conversion.
Last June 26, during NIA’s 50th anniversary ceremonies, President Aquino scolded the agency for failing to meet their own projections.
“Isn’t it that you gave yourselves that target? And it’s very clear you didn’t meet them,” he told the audience, including NIA Administrator Engr. Antonio Nangel, who was fired weeks later by Aquino.
Civil society organization Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) has also called NIA “a poor performer,” saying, “Malaki ang budget pero mababa ang accomplishments nila.” (Their budget is high but their accomplishments are low.)
COA noted, “The minimal increase in irrigable areas developed may be attributed to the rehabilitation and restoration of existing irrigation systems being given precedence of the generation of new areas for development.”
NIA’s restoration works and rehabilitation projects, covered 230,389 hectares and 714,540 hectares, respectively, in 2009-2012. – Rappler.com