No kidding: P100M goat breeding project gone baaaad

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    GOVERNMENT auditors are seeking an investigation by the Department of Agriculture into the P100 million Dairy Goat Development Project (DGDP) in 2009, saying irregularities milked the project dry.

    In a 90-page report dated September 18, 2019, the Commission on Audit said out of 1,749 goats originally purchased and distributed by the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), only 696 animals remain alive with the high mortality incidence attributed to stress and diseases.

    Auditors said that from the outset some people skimmed the cream off the funding, buying only 766 heads of imported goats procured or 58 percent short of the originally intended 1,830 imported stock (210 buck/males, 1,620 does/females).

    The DGDP’s objective in bringing in imported animals was to improve the breeder base for increased milk and meat production, create hardier stock, and augment the income of small farmer-breeders who will be selected as caretakers.

    The distribution of breeding animals was supposed to be on loan basis payable through the turnover of the offspring to the Nabcor for re-distribution to other farmers.

    “No document was made available to the Audit Team to justify or explain the deviation from the original intent of procuring 1,830 heads of imported goats which was one of the primary program components,” the COA said.

    Nabcor claimed it requested the Australian Embassy to forward invitations for potential suppliers from the Australian Dairy Goat Consolidators and also informed the Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (FGASPAPI) of the agency’s need but said only Ebenezer Goat Farm attended the pre-bid conference and was the sole bidder.

    The COA cast doubt on Nabcor’s claim.

    “There are no documents showing that Nabcor indeed notified the said parties about the invitation to bid,” the audit team pointed out,

    In the end, Ebenezer Goat Farm was awarded the supply contract worth P74.944 million for the delivery of 82 imported male breeders plus 684 females and 164 local-upgraded males plus 3,864 local-upgraded females.

    Data obtained by the audit team from the municipal government of Capas, Tarlac, however, showed the supplier was a complete tenderfoot in the business as its official receipts were only authorized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue on November 24, 2009.

    Its sales invoice and delivery receipt issued to Nabcor were both numbered 0001, dated December 17, 2009.

    Auditors noted that the supposed public bidding for the supply contract took place on July 27, 2009, which meant the supplier should have been disqualified for non-compliance with the required minimum of three-year operational existence.

    “The propriety and validity of the award of contract to Ebenezer Goat Farm for the supply and delivery of dairy goats is questionable considering that procurement procedures were not compliant with RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act). Moreover, the eligibility of the bidder/supplier is likewise doubtful,” the COA said.

    In addition, the whereabouts of 84 bucks and 680 does with a combined value of P34 million could not be established as the intended beneficiaries did not confirm receiving the said animals.

    As of the issuance of the audit findings, only 253 goats have been returned to the Nabcor for re-distribution as many of the farmer-breeders complained that the cost of raising the goats exceeded any potential income from the project.

    The Department of Agriculture noted the audit recommendation but explained that conducting further investigation “would be impossible” since Nabcor was already abolished in 2013 hence its officials and employees are no longer connected with the government.