Philippines’ Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the provincial government of Nueva Ecija over P100 million worth of grain drying facilities are lying idle for years and not benefitted the farmers. The provincial government built 10 grain-drying facilities in 2001 at a total cost of P100 million or P10 million each, in the municipalities of Llanera, Sto Domingo, Zaragoza, Quezon, Licab, Aliaga, Peñaranda, San Leonardo, Cabiao, and Jaen. The facilities were supposed to help farmers store and dry their crops so they could sell quality rice for a good price. A COA technical audit showed that the facilities were not operated long enough to recover the acquisition and operation costs because of several issues. Sixteen years after they were built, only 3 of the 10 facilities are deemed operational, although the last time these were used was in 2009. Nueva Ecija’s provincial agriculturist told COA that use of the facilities from 2007 to 2009 only generated P1.2 million in fees.
COA faulted the provincial agriculturist’s office and the provincial general services office for lapses in monitoring the projects. Besides the state of disrepair, COA noted that the facilities were built not on public land but on 1,000-square meter lots donated by various private owners. The setup was deemed “somehow disadvantageous to the government” because the donation only remains effective so long as the dryers are in use. After that, the properties revert back to the donor or his heirs. According to COA, the provincial administrator disclosed in an exit conference that the provincial government would seek the help of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization of the Department of Agriculture in rehabilitating the facilities. COA also urged the province to consider the legal implications of the land donation scheme.