COA hits NIA for poor irrigation record

Rappler.com
NIA has spent P67.18 billion out of its P134.811 billion budget from 2009 to 2012, but it has only covered 95,035 hectares of newly-irrigated farmlands, according to COA

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
Allotment received  16.203  15.930  17.854  27.803
Cash/Non-cash support  13.155  12.483  11.466  19.915
Total allocation to NIA
 29.358  28.413  29.320  47.718
Expenditures  15.202  14.017  13.653  24.218

 

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
Target area 18,457 12,989 33,341 100,994
Actual coverage 9,909 6,603 23,923 55,500
Percentage 53.69% 50.84% 71.75% 54.95%

 

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