GOVERNMENT auditors are demanding an explanation from the National Food Authority (NFA) for its failure to spend P101.668 million intended for the purchase of palay from local farmers in 2019.
The unused Cereal Procurement Fund (CPF) was traced from the NFA offices in Region 2 (P31.39 million) and the provinces of Agusan del Norte (P17.8 million), Isabela (P15.89 million), Cagayan (P11.85 million), Northwestern Cagayan-Apayao (P10.22 million), Quirino (P5.28 million), Kalinga (P3.95 million), Nueva Vizcaya (P3.5 million), and Ifugao (P1.79 million).
“The CPF was intended mainly for the procurement of palay from farmers/farmers’ organizations. We noted that the POs (provincial offices) have unutilized balances of CPF amounting to P101.668 million that were not remitted to the Central Office,” auditors said.
During an inquiry by the audit team, PO accountants said the leftover funds were attributable to two reasons: first, the farmers supposedly sold the NFA low-quality rice which made them cheaper; and second, the agency’s move to remove the P3.70 per kilo pricing incentive around the middle of 2019 which discouraged local farmers from sending their produce to the NFA.
With few sellers, the NFA-POs said the money was left unused.
The audit team, however, pointed out the CPF program was not just intended to augment the country’s grain buffer for lean months and consumer demands but also to provide support to local farmers by prioritizing their rice produce.
“Retaining huge unutilized amounts of CPF in the agency’s account exposed the funds to risk of loss through misappropriation and deprived other NFA offices of additional resources for procurement,” it noted.
Likewise questioned was the lack of documentation for the disbursement of P94.231 million CPF in the Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur POs.
The sum was supposedly used as replenishment for disbursements by special disbursing officers (SDOs) in both provincial offices but auditors found scant supporting documents.
“The absence of required document/information to support the replenishment of cash advances for CPF compromised the validity and propriety of subject disbursements,” the Commission on Audit said.