Drilon asks DOF to utilize PITC unused funds for Ayuda during ECQ

Drilon asks DOF to utilize PITC unused funds for Ayuda during ECQ

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Wednesday urged
the Department of Finance (DOF) to look at unexpended and unused funds
that could be sitting idly in the Philippine International Trading
Corporation (PITC) to fund the much-needed social amelioration program
(SAP) or Ayuda.

As the government scrambles to find the money for Ayuda or cash grants,
Drilon said it is highly possible that PITC is still sitting on a pile
of unused and unspent cash that should have been returned long ago to
the Bureau of Treasury.

“I urge the Department of Finance (DOF) to include the PITC in its
‘cash sweep’ and immediately direct PITC to return any unused and
unexpended funds in its possession so that it can be used to augment
the budget for Ayuda,” Drilon said on Wednesday.

Drilon issued the statement after the Commission of Audit (COA)
flagged the trading corporation for its failure to return to the
Bureau of Treasury or its source agencies unused funds of P11.02
billion.

“These unreturned and unutilized funds, if it is still with the PITC,
can augment the paltry Ayuda that the government has promised to Metro
Manila residents will be badly affected by the lockdown. It can
double the P1,000 to P4,000 Ayuda that our kababayan will receive. We
must use the funds to increase it to P8,000 per household,” said
Drilon, who previously exposed PITC’s scheme of keeping government
funds in its bank accounts for a long.

Citing the COA report, Drilon said the balances of the fund transfers
totaling P11.022 billion from various Source Agencies (Sas),
specifically the National Government Agencies (NGAs), for calendar
years (Cys) 2014 to 2020 for the procurements of various projects
remained unutilized as of December 31, 2020.

COA flagged P11 billion worth of projects under the General
Appropriations Acts of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
that remain “for procurement and bidding.”

Of the P11 billion, P3.5 billion are fund transfers from the Military
Group (Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, etc);
while P7.4 billion were transfers from Bureau of Customs, Department
of Information and Communications Technology, Philippine National
Police, and other government agencies.

Drilon said he agreed with the COA findings that the funds must be
returned to the concerned source agencies or the Bureau of Treasury
(BTr).

“We need Covid-19 funds. We need Ayuda funds. If these funds are still
with PITC as the government scrambles for money to fund the Ayuda,
that would be outrageous,” Drilon added.

Drilon said the PITC is mandated by law to return these funds to the
Bureau of Treasury.

Aside from COA Circular No. 94-013 and the pertinent GAA provisions
that require the reversion of unexpended balances of appropriation to
the source agencies and the general fund, Drilon also cited Republic
Act No. 11520 as authority for the return of the funds.

“Republic Act No. 11520 that extended the availability of 2020
national budget until December 31, 2021, mandated PITC to immediately
return the balances from the funds transferred to it by different
agencies,” Drilon explained.

The law explicitly provides that “Any balances of fund transfers in
the books of the PITC shall revert to the unappropriated surplus of
the general fund” upon its effectivity” in December 2020.

Drilon also introduced the provision in the law that would put a stop
to the practice of agency procurement outsourcing to PITC, to wit:
“agency outsourcing requests or agreements by agencies,
instrumentalities and/or government-owned and controlled corporations
with the philippine international trading corporation shall not be
allowed.”

“This practice of parking funds with this GOCC must stop. The
government is hard up due to the drop in revenues. If they cannot
disburse the funds, just return them to national coffers,” Drilon
said. (ai/mtvn)

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