MORE THAN P141 million worth of relief goods purchased and received by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from foreign and local donors in 2013 and 2014 have been found rotting in its warehouses, according to the Commission on Audit.
State auditors said the food items were supposed to be distributed to victims of typhoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga City siege in 2013, Mayon Volcano evacuees in September 2014, and victims of typhoons Ruby and Seniang last year.
“The procurement and acceptance of relief goods without considering the absorptive capacity and condition of the warehousing facilities and personnel, available stocks, shelf life or expiry dates and the actual needs of (DSWD) Field Offices resulted in undistributed and expired or about to expire relief goods amounting to at least P141.084 million,” the COA said in its 2014 audit report on the DSWD.
A breakdown of the inventory conducted by auditors showed P55.297 million worth of food items are with DSWD Region 7 Office; P38.131 million of canned goods, noodles, cereal drinks at the DSWD Central Office; P4.57 million “various goods” at DSWD Region 4-A; P15.069 million worth of rice and P15.88 million worth of coffee at DSWD-Region 6; and P12.137 million worth of “family food packs (FFPs)” with DSWD Region 9.
Food items donated by countries that were not assessed for monetary value were found by auditors to be past their recommended shelf life and are no longer fit for human consumption.
Among these were 96 sacks of instant noodles from Thailand with March 2014 expiry date, 37 boxes of imported biscuits from Osaka, Japan which also expired as of March 2014, 33 boxes of assorted canned goods from the Bureau of Customs with non-legible/missing expiry dates at the DSWD Central Office; 427 family food packs improperly labeled at the Lucena City warehouse; and expired canned goods from Belgium and Ghana, bottles of mineral water from Brunei expiring by November 2015 in Region 6.
Auditors noted that the biggest problem was the absence of suitable storage, improper sorting that made batching by date difficult, lack of manpower for sorting, packing and distribution; and oversupply once the calamity has passed and evacuees had returned home.
The COA recommended that the DSWD review its procurement procedures to prevent wastage of government resources and better monitoring of available stocks to improve distribution and transfer of relief goods to areas where they are needed.
The agency also suggested hiring of additional personnel and construction of more suitable storage facilities.
In its response, the DSWD said instant noodles will no longer be included in FFPs because of their short shelf-life. It also assured the COA that improvements on warehousing facilities are underway.
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, MALAYA