MANILA- The Department of Science and Technology failed to collect P251 million from small business owners who availed of financial assistance from the government, a Commission on Audit report showed.
State auditors noted that under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) were given assistance to increase their sales with the condition to repay this within 3 to 5 years.
Among the collectibles were funds granted from as early 2003 by DOST offices in Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos, Southwestern Tagalog Region, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga.
State auditors also noted that P5.71 million were spent on items outside of the line-item budget, such as P220,000 for the logging business of one proponent and P600,000 for sewing and photography equipment and land purchase of another.
The audit team noted that the DOST agreed to their recommendation such as the need for a strengthened monitoring mechanism for the efficient utilization of government funds.
The agency should also intensify its collection efforts by sending demand letters to business owners who failed to refund their obligations on time.
“DOST-I commented that they are having difficulties in facilitating the pull-out of SETUP equipment from the beneficiaries due to additional cost of dismantling and such would cause further deterioration,” the COA report said.
A copy of the report was transmitted to DOST Secretary Fortunato De la Peña on June 27, 2019.
The full 2018 audit report on the DOST can be downloaded from the COA website