Management Board needed for Choco Hills transparency

Abapo
Abapo

The provincial government mulls the creation of a management board to oversee the operation of the Chocolate Hills Complex.

In a privilege speech during the regular session last Friday, Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Member Tomas Abapo Jr. said it is needed to ensure transparency as he noted that the provincial government no longer gets any update as to the financial status of the Chocolate Hills Complex up to now.

Abapo said that the Provincial Internal Audit Office and the Provincial Treasurer Office (PTO) already complained that the local government of Carmen failed to religiously remit the 30-percent monthly share of the provincial government from the income of the Chocolate Hills Complex.

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On this, Abapo proposed that there should be a management board that will include the governor as chairperson and the mayor of Carmen as co-chair.

The Chocolate Hills Complex is supposedly a property of the province of Bohol and starting August 1993, its management had been entrusted to the municipal government, based on a Memorandum of Agreement.

The Committee on Tourism, chaired by SP Member Kristine Alexie Tutor, now takes charge of studying Abapo’s suggestion.

Way back in 2012, the past SP also created a Special Audit Team (SAT) to pursue transparency in the financial operations of the Chocolate Hills Complex that reportedly had incurred significant losses in the operation of its restaurant and lodging facility as reflected in the monthly financial statements in the preceding years.

The detailed statements of operation for the Chocolate Hills Complex in most months in 2012 showed that questionable wages and food supplies had been charged to income from toll fees; and that in some months, a single electric bill is charged twice—to the income from restaurant and lodging.

The records also showed that wages for several casual employees had been charged to toll fee proceeds; while the collection from lodging facility was only a few pesos higher than the electric consumption.

The past SP then already noted the significant decline of the income of the Chocolate Hills Complex despite the flock of foreign and local tourists visiting the prime tourist destination of the province then.

That was prior to the 2013 earthquake.

Even as early as 2012, the SP at that time already expressed that the provincial government deserved to know the real financial status on the operations of the Chocolate Hills Complex, as provided in the memorandum of agreement between the local government unit of Carmen and the provincial government in as much as both LGUs are sharing profits on the revenue of the Chocolate Hills operations.

Records in most months preceding September 2012, and few earlier years showed that the Chocolate Hills Complex incurred losses of up to P150,000 in the operation of the restaurant and lodging facility.

The operation of the Chocolate Hills Complex relies on three sources of income—restaurant, toll fee, and lodging.

The SP now wants an update, noting on the intermittent compliance of LGU-Carmen of the stipulations in the MOA, specially on the remittance of the provincial government’s share in the monthly income.



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