Govt firms scored over remittances

A BICOL congressman scored the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations for failing to oversee at least 10 state firms that have apparently deprived the government of some P68.66 billion in unremitted or undeclared dividends over 10 years. 

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the GCG should immediately probe the fund irregularity with the aim of reorganizing, privatizing or even abolishing GOCCs that have repeatedly violated their charters and other laws.

“We will first let the GCG do its job of evaluating the performance of these GOCCs,” Villafuerte said, citing the violations the CoA uncovered in its 2015 annual report.

“If the GCG is not up to the job, then I might file a resolution calling for a congressional probe into these GOCCs that have either not remitted, under-remitted, under-declared or not declared the dividends due the national government,” said Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations. 

Villafuerte said among the GOCCs named in the COA are the National Food Authority with P937.602 million; Philippine Sugar Corp., P441.256 million; Philippine Postal Corp,  P356.4 million; Local Water Utilities Administration,  P343.191 million; Philippine Rice Research Institute, P82.274 million; Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., P27.279 billion;  Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., P23.817 billion; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., P15.401 billion; Philippine Aerospace Development Corp.,  P6.84 million; and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, which did not declare any dividends.

According to the CoA, these GOCCs violated provisions of Republic Act No. 7656, or the law requiring GOCCs to declare dividends under certain conditions to the national government.

Villafuerte noted that Section 3 of the law states that, “All government-owned or -controlled corporations shall declare and remit at least 50 percent of their annual net earnings as cash, stock or property dividends to the National Government.” 

The law exempts GOCCs tasked “to administer real or personal properties or funds held in trust for the use and the benefit of its members,” such as the Government Service Insurance System, Pag-Ibig, Employees Compensation Commission, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and Philippine Medical Care Commission, Villafuerte explained.

But all other GOCCs are required to remit at least half of their annual net earnings to the national government, which “shall be received by the National Treasury and recorded as income of the General Fund,” he said. 

Villafuerte said the GCG should get to the bottom of this CoA-discovered fund irregularity because the agency’s charter, RA 10149, precisely grants powers for such purposes.

“Section 5 of the GCG law specifically states these powers of the Governance Commission,” Villafuerte said. 

“In fact, looking at this CoA list of erring GOCCs, some of them should be evaluated by the GCG regardless of whether they have failed to remit or declare the correct amount of dividends to the Treasury because their functions, if you examine them,  are best performed by the private sector instead of by state-controlled firms,” he said. 

The GCG law specifically states the Commission can conduct periodic study, examination, evaluation and assessment of the performance of the GOCCs, and also receive, and in appropriate cases, require reports on the operations and management of the GOCCs including the management of the assets and finances of the GOCCs, Villafuerte said. 

“Thus, the GCG is within its powers to investigate the GOCCs in the CoA list and even look into the management of their assets and finances,” he added.

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