How did SouthCot use its P74-M COVID-19 Bayanihan fund?

KORONADAL CITY  (MindaNews / 6 September) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has “fully utilized” the 74 million pesos it received from the Bayanihan Grant for Provinces (BGP), a one-time cash assistance from the national government to help local government units respond quickly to the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-190.

But the July 31 report issued by the provincial government showed that only around 70 percent of the Bayanihan Grant had been disbursed in line with the fight against the deadly and highly contagious disease.

Governor Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. said the provincial government received the grant in April and it was used to purchase or pay for services allowed under the guidelines set by the Department of Budget and Management.

South Cotabato map courtesy of Google Maps

“There was a menu that we followed in utilizing the Bayanihan fund, which must be utilized within one month otherwise it will revert to the national coffers,” the governor said in a press conference on Friday.

“Definitely, our Bayanihan grant is fully depleted,” he added.

But based on the “Report on Fund Utilization of Bayanihan Grant to Provinces as of July 31, 2020,” and posted at the website of the provincial government on September 1 (https://southcotabato.gov.ph/fund-utilization/), the province had disbursed only PhP 50,845,789.68 out of the PhP 74,051,810 share from the BGP in the three months up to July 31, 2020.

Under the “Procurement of PPEs, reagents & testing Kits and hospital MOEE,” almost PhP 30 million was used for medical, dental and laboratory supplies expenses, PhP 8.6 million for medical equipment, PhP 6.5 million for drugs and medicines expenses, PhP 1.1 million for other supplies and materials expenses and PhP 75,000 for other MOE-Labor expense, the report showed.

Under the “Assistance to Medical/health Personnel and Other Frontliners,” PhP 924,700 went to rent expenses,  PhP 1.9 million for other MOE-Meals and Snacks, PhP 1.3 million for food supplies expenses, and nothing expended for fuel, oil and lubricants expenses although it had an appropriation for PhP 200,000, the July 31 report said.

At least PhP 940,630 was disbursed under “Repair and Maintenance of COVID-19 Treatment Center and other Quarantine Facilities,” according to the report.

At least PhP 400,000 was appropriated for training for medical personnel and other frontliners, including honoraria of speakers and food, but no disbursement had been made as of the July 31 report.

The signatories to the report included Tamayo, Luz Perpetua Fontanilla, CPA, provincial budget officer; Alvim Batol, CPA, provincial treasurer; and Jennifer Bretaña, provincial planning and development coordinator.

A remark of “on-going” was stated under the program/project status and the estimated completion is in the duration of the national state of calamity, the July 31 BGP report of South Cotabato said.

Last March 16, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 929 placing the entire country under a state of calamity for six months, unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bayanihan Grant for Provinces is equivalent to half-a month’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) share of the provinces and is intended to be used “as augmentation to the funding requirements for the operation of provincial, district, and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government, and maintenance of duly established provincial checkpoints related to COVID-19, in support to the on-going efforts of the government to respond to the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Bayanihan Grant for Cities and Municipalities, on the other hand, is equivalent to one month’s IRA share.

The IRA is the annual share of LGUs from national internal revenue taxes.  The formula for computation takes into account the LGU’s population (50%), land (25%) and equal sharing (25%) so LGUs with a bigger population and land area get a bigger share of the IRA pie. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

 

 

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