Capitol’s planning and dev’t officer vows to review fund use

By: Gerome Dalipe

WHY did the Iloilo Provincial Government keep on underutilizing its 20 percent development fund in the past years?

Various Capitol department heads yesterday met with the local finance committee and vowed to review the use of the Province’s development fund, said Mario Nillos, provincial planning development officer.

In an interview with Daily Guardian, Nillos cited several reasons why the Capitol did not “optimally” utilize the development fund.

These include the lack of technical personnel, particularly in the Provincial Engineering’s Office, failure of bidding, and the individual procurement being made by various district hospitals, among others.

“So, when we propose the allocations, we will first visit the development fund utilization,” said Nillos.

In its 2018 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the public was deprived of vital services and benefits since the Capitol did not “optimally” utilize the allocation of the 20 percent development fund.

Such practice violated the Joint Memorandum Circular 2017 – 1 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Budget and Management.

“We also recommended that the PPDO (Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Engineer’s Office, and other implementing offices to coordinate and strategize to optimally utilize the 20 percent development fund,” read the COA report.

State auditors recommended that the governor direct the Local Development Council, the Provincial Planning and Development Office and other implementing offices to review the composition of the 20 percent continuing appropriation.

This aims at identifying the savings of completed projects and those which were no longer prioritized to the provisions of the Local Government Code.

The Capitol officials are also urged to regularly monitor the status of utilization and the programs, projects, activities’ implementation.

In the interview, Nillos said that the utilization of the development fund was among the issues raised by the appropriation committee during the deliberation of the Province’s 2019 budget.

The approval of the Province’s 2019 budget of P3.64 billion was delayed for about six months since some items in the annual budget were not specified.

Nillos said they will check the utilization for the development fund utilization, particularly the allocations for the offices of engineering, agriculture, environment, and natural resources, and hospital management.