A scheme that redirected payments from a government agency to another agency has sent shivers down the spine of local contractors leading to suspicions that funds are drying up for the payment of their obligations.
An association of local contractors lambasted the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for undue delay in the payment of their contracts even as they raised the specter of bankruptcy among the “nearly dying local contractors” whose financial survival hinge on the release of funds to cover completed infrastructure projects in the province of Bohol.
Maverick contractor Engineer Petronilo “Nilo” Sarigumba denounced the manner NIA has classified their collectibles as “accounts payable” that need the release of additional funds sourced from the DBM “usually taking two to three months before payments could be made”.
Sarigumba who heads the Bohol Contractors Association appealed to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad for “utmost speedy action” for the release of funds to cover millions of collectibles due to local contractors of NIA projects.
Accusing NIA officials of violation of provisions of Republic Act 9184 known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, Sarigumba excoriated as “deplorable and unacceptable” the move of the NIA classifying their accounts as “accounts payable”.
Citing section 7, paragraph 2 of RA 9184 that states no procurement shall be undertaken unless it is in accordance with the approved Annual Procurement Plan (APP), Sarigumba questioned the whereabouts of the approved budgets set aside for NIAâ€™s on going projects.
Mired in corruption cases, NIA has to answer contractors the alleged depletion of funds to pay local contractors and passing the blame to the DBM despite its approved yearly budget.
But according to NIA sources, all items in the NIA budget are supported with a duly prepared and approved list of projects reflected under the GAA appropriations.
But Sarigumba is not convinced with NIA’s position because the classification of their accounts to “accounts payable” clearly reflects the lack of funds of NIA.
The Bohol Contractors Association whose members rely on loans to finance their approved contracts “are at the losing end” in the arbitrary and unjust NIA system of shifting the burden of paying to DBM despite a huge annual budget, according to Sarigumba.
With the onset of a disastrous dry season, contractors of NIA are raising apprehensions on the fate of their projects that sorely depends on the timely release of long overdue payments – now the obligation resting on the shoulders of the DBMÂ (Chito M. Visarra)