COA hits delays in P12-billion irrigation projects

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged delays in the implementation of projects worth almost P12 billion by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

In a recently released report, state auditors blamed the "inadequate planning and inefficient execution of surveys and engineering designs" behind the non-completion of 436 irrigation projects amounting to P11.938 billion in 2017.

COA added that this has been "a recurring issue that the agency [has] been unable to address."

Among the projects, the commission found that the P204.78-million Sta Josefa Pump Irrigation Project suffered the longest delay, reaching more than 7 years.

"In the CO (Central Office), review of the implementation status disclosed that 28 projects with contract costs aggregating P6.338 billion incurred delays ranging from 46 to 2,558 calendar days. In addition, there are 7 contracts implemented by the CO with a total cost of P1.488 billion under termination process," COA said in its report.

The NIA, for its part, said the delays were caused by right-of-way problems, lack of manpower, and the peace and order situation in project areas.

The agency is now aiming to separate funding for its right-of-way issues "to ensure that claims are first settled" before the start of project construction. It also aims to conduct additional trainings and restructuring within the agency to address the lack of manpower.

COA, meanwhile, encouraged the NIA to cut ties with contractors if delays are their fault. –