GOVERNMENT auditors are asking awkward questions of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) over delays in the implementation of the P160.67 million National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (NISRIP) that was supposed to be completed way back October 12, 2017.
In the 2019 audit of PhilRice released last July 16, the Commission on Audit said P92.608 million or 58 percent of project funding has been spent leaving P68.066 million or 42 percent still unutilized.
The audit team said since missing its completion timetable, the project has been extended four more times equivalent to more than two years.
Even with half of the project funds, the COA noted that no progress report has been submitted that would have “shown how the operations of the project went about.”
The NISRIP is a five-year project funded by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2012 that was supposed to develop and rehabilitate the country’s irrigation system in support of the National Food Sufficiency Program.
The National Irrigation Administration, as primary implementing agency, partnered with the PHilRice to enhance the capacity of extension workers and farmers by providing training, technical assistance, farm technologies and agricultural machineries.
Aside from delays in the project implementation, auditors also discovered that eight four-wheel tractors purchased to the tune of P6.75 million and supposedly for distribution to NISRIP beneficiary farmers in Sultan Kudarat are unaccounted for.
The COA said the transaction is “questionable” due to inconsistencies in the Inspection and Acceptance Report (IAR) and delivery receipt (DR).
One document said the delivery was made in Luzon, the other says the farm machineries landed in Mindanao.
“The delivery of the eight units of four-wheel tractors was allegedly made on January 30, 2018 and PRRI-CES (Central Experiment Station) in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija per DR No. 18173. However, the accompanying IAR No. 18-03-0091 dated March 8, 2018 contained a disclaimer from the inspector stating that the inspection of the eight tractors was made instead by the rice technician of at the PRRI-Midsayap Station,” the COA said.
Supporting documents that were supposed to settle the questions where nowhere to be found.
“The absence of corroborating evidence such as pictures of the delivered machineries and acceptance of the same by the beneficiaries as well as the failure of PRRI to invite its auditors to witness said delivery, we could not help but question the actual occurrence of this transaction,” the COA said.