June 21, 2024

The Commission on Audit has flagged the province of Benguet over a multi-million livelihood project that is not being used for its intended purpose due to poor monitoring.

In its 2022 report, the COA called the attention of the provincial government and the beneficiary groups of the project, Benguet Arabica Coffee Enterprise (BACE), for not using the Department of Agriculture-funded facility that cost P10,199,874.41.

The BACE was intended to boost the province’s coffee industry through the provision of facilities and equipment that are supposed to aid the beneficiaries in the production, post-harvest, consolidation, and processing of quality coffee.

The COA found there were no funds available to operate the trading center, which is one component of the BACE and was turned over to the lead proponent group, Kibungan Arabica Coffee Growers Multipurpose Cooperative, in 2021.

The equipment and materials for the enterprise were also turned over in 2021 to the beneficiaries, composed of 12 groups, mainly coffee growers.

The COA said the non-provision of funds by the provincial government contradicts the provision of an agreement it signed with DA, which stated that the former should pass an ordinance allotting funds for the enterprise’s operations for 10 years.

Aside from the non-allocation of funds, the COA also found the beneficiaries were busy with the operation of their other enterprise.

The COA also took exception to the fact that some of the defective works that were observed in the facility’s construction in the previous audit are yet to be corrected, such as the poor installation of plumbing and leaks on the building’s roof.

For the project to be maximized, the COA advised the provincial government to provide funds, facilities, and services that would make the operation of the enterprise possible.

It also advised that the contractor be required to fix the defective works at their expense and ensure that the beneficiary groups fulfill their obligations, such as securing business permits to make the BACE operational. – Jane B. Cadalig