MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for losing P29.466 million in revenues from rental fees for fish pen and fish cage operators in 2018.
State auditors noted that the amount corresponds to fees for 5,460 hectares of occupied area, with only 110 or 3.32 percent of operators paying their fees.
The low turn-out was attributed to the lapses and deficiencies in the collection procedure after the lifting of the moratorium on aquaculture operations.
The moratorium on operations was issued on February 1, 2017 and lifted on June 7 of the same year.
“Apparently, it is only when such delinquent operators voluntarily settle or renew their permits that their delinquency is acted upon by LLDA. Thus, they continue to operate and use the lake resources, contrary to the provision of the above-mentioned guidelines that delinquents will no longer be allowed to operate and will be subject for demolition,” the COA report noted.
Annual fish pen fees cost P6,000 per square hectare while fish cage fees are at P4,200 per hectare.
The auditors recommended that the LLDA adopt measures to prevent the accumulation of arrearages, such as regular monitoring of delinquent operators as well as sending demand letters and providing sanctions and penalties to operators.
It was also recommended that the LLDA continue sending notices of registration to each operator and issue guidelines for the annual registration of fish pen and fish cage operators to address the low turn-out of permit renewals and registration.
The LLDA management for its part committed to collect the arrearages from delinquent operators once the Zoning and Management Guidelines are approved.
“Management also informed that they will cause the preparation of a database of aquaculture operators which will facilitate monitoring of delinquent operators, and committed to continue the issuance of notices of registration and guidelines for annual registration of fish pens/fish cages operators,” the COA report noted.
A copy of the audit report was received by LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina on June 17, 2019.
The full audit report can be downloaded from the COA website.