MANILA — Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has welcomed the recent Commission on Audit (COA) report stating that there are PHP6.3 billion in unliquidated funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) implementation.
In a press statement, Secretary Taguiwalo said that she and members of her DSWD transition team will use the observations made by the COA and consider them in their ongoing review of DSWD programs, particularly the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.
“Although the COA report indicated that the amounts remained either idle or unliquidated with Landbank and its conduits, and other government agencies, the Department is alarmed by the magnitude of the amounts involved because they are equal to more than 10% of the budget of the DSWD,” she said.
She explained that she and her team had earlier discussed this matter with career officials at DSWD.
“We were made aware that the unliquidated amounts are lodged in with agencies that are not under DSWD control, like the Land Bank of the Philippines, CHED and some LGUs. We will, therefore, explore more effective means to get their utmost cooperation and compliance to achieve our common goals,” she said.
One of the mechanisms that DSWD is exploring is the use of a fund intercept, such as the “IRA intercept” for DSWD partner local government units (LGUs) or a similar budget intercept for other agencies like the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and a penalty clause for Landbank and its conduits should they fail to liquidate DSWD advances to these entities.
Secretary Taguiwalo said that her administration will ensure that the value of the public funds under its custody is not eroded due to any inefficiencies or misuse.
As part of the transition process at DSWD, a comprehensive review of the financial system is being considered to evaluate its efficiency and effectiveness in implementing the DSWD’s programs, including the CCT.
Taguiwalo said that “consistent with the Duterte administration’s guiding principle, my administration hereby reaffirms its commitment as custodian of public resources and utilize same solely for the people’s interests.”
The CCT was the previous Aquino administration’s flagship antipoverty program, and its budget was PHP62.3 billion.
The COA reported that as of Dec. 31, 2015, DSWD secured seven foreign loans amounting to PHP90.03 billion to implement five projects, three of which are still ongoing, including the CCT.
In the meantime, the World Bank approved a new USD 450-million (about PHP21-billion) loan to the Philippines to augment funding for the project in the next four years.
Among the comments the COA made was that there were recurring deficiencies in the implementation of 4Ps, resulting in delayed delivery of assistance to rightful beneficiaries or unnecessary holding of idle funds by Landbank and its conduits.
Payments to qualified beneficiaries suffered delays by 12 to 15 months due to delayed processing and release of checks or absence of partner conduits, among others, it said. PNA/northboundasia.com