ROUGH CUTS| Why is P400M sleeping in the banks?

  WHAT? It’s only now that a member of the City Council, or perhaps the entire Council itself, knows that officials of some barangays are regularly mulcting money from quarry operators with concessions in their respective areas of jurisdiction?

It’s been going on for so long. We know of one barangay where the captain is demanding that his “take” be done on a monthly basis. The barangay captain has in fact designated one of his “kagawads” to collect the grease money right in the house of the quarry operator.

The quarry site located along the Davao River adjacent Barangay Callawa is where the operator, a Chinese-Filipino, is sourcing his truckloads of gravel, sand and boulders. If the number of truckloads is the basis of computing the barangay chief’s “monthly” then that official must be earning a fortune.

We are therefore recommending to Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, chair of the Council’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee that he calls first all the quarry operators and get them to identify the mulcting barangay officials. Then his committee should ask them to submit affidavits concerning the mulcting activity.

As soon as this process is done and affidavits are submitted it’s now up to the Dayanghirang committee to come up with recommendation on what to do with the erring barangay executives.

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And what is this finding of the Commission on Audit (COA) that Davao City has a whooping P400 million in Local School Board (LSB) funds that is lying idle in special and high-yield accounts in some savings bank?

In its audit conducted for the City’s 2015-2016 operation the COA also discovered a P151.8 million in unobligated Capital Outlays from the LSB. According to the COA this very low utilization of funds is indicative of a very slow or almost non-implementation of projects funded under the Capital outlay.

But even as the local government is somewhat wallowing in abundance as far as its LSB resources are concerned, a good number of public schools in Davao City are virtually begging for their share in whatever is made available by the local government.

This is possibly the reason why all public schools have to mobilize financial and even material support from students, parents, teachers, the community, and other stakeholders if only to improve the school operation.

Meanwhile, the money deposited as savings in the banks is earning the maximum offered interest rates. But what good will such earnings from the deposit interests bring to the city and its people if the money will just be made to sleep in the banks’ vaults? Of course we cannot discount the possibility that some scheming individuals may have entered into some illicit “agreements” to satisfy their greed. Such suspicion can be premised on the question why the huge LSB money is allowed to stay for long in the bank when there are a lot of public schools in the city hoping for assistance from the local government through the LSB budget.

Who is paying for the salaries of school guards other than the one posted by the city government? Who is footing the school’s utility bills which are not anymore covered by the very limited Maintenance, Operating and Other Expenses (MOOE) allocation? The parents of the students do.

Of course, when the financial support of the city is being requested by the schools technically it is correct in claiming that the LSB has no available money. Why? Simply put, while the money is there it cannot be made available because there is restriction as to its withdrawal schedules.

The money could either be placed in time deposit, or invested in high yield bonds or corporate stocks. So, if the LSB money is withdrawn to meet the needs of certain public schools chances are the city will be penalized with amounts provided in the deposit agreement.

Meanwhile, this discovery by the COA also indicates a major weakness in the city’s financial management. Its planners are unable to harmonize project preparation, budget submission, and project implementation.

May be the COA should help the city improve its capability in managing its resources vis-a-vis funding the many projects required of its robust socio-economic growth.

Posted in Opinion