DPWH Aklan to return unspent Kalibo market construction funds to Treasury

PHOTO CAPTION: Vendors and marketgoers have no choice but to continue to endure the overcrowded conditions at the existing Kalibo Public Market pending the resolution of the issues surrounding the construction of the new market and the temporary relocation of the merchants./iNEWS

KALIBO, Aklan–Engr. Alejandro Ventilacion of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Aklan District Engineering Office has confirmed the unutilized funds for three projects intended for the existing Kalibo Public Market are to be remitted to the National Treasury.

The unspent government funds are still in the coffers of the agency but have been idle since or expired in December 2020. The funds have the required Special Allotment Request Orders (SARO) issued by the Department of Budget and Management.

“Malabo na ma-resolved itong isyu sa relokasyon ng vendors itong taon. Ang mga contractors ay alanganin na rin dahil iba na ang costing kung ngayon nila sisimulan ang proyekto [I don’t think the issues surrounding the relocation of the vendors can be resolved this year. Even the contractors are unsure because the costing would have to be revised if the project were to start now instead],” he said.

The unspent funds amounting to P60-million allotted in 2020 for the construction of the New Kalibo Public Market should be returned to the treasury due to the failure of the local government of Kalibo, Aklan, to secure a relocation site for the vendors.

“Dapat nasimulan ang mga proyekto itong November 26, 2020. Ang 2020 budget para sa construction ng public market ay hanggang December itong taon ang disbursement, at wala na tayong oras kung hihintayin pa natin kung kailan magkakaroon ng relocation site [This project should have started on November 26, 2020. The 2020 budget for the construction of the public market has until this December to be disbursed, but we just won’t have enough time anymore since until now there is no relocation site],” Ventilacion added.

In September 2019, a fire incident partially destroyed the decades-old Kalibo Public Market along Toting Reyes Street and Roxas Avenue Extension.

The local government decided to purchase a relocation site in Brgy. Andagaw through a loan package with a government bank. But the majority of members of the Sangguniang Bayan opposed the purchase deal in consideration of the concerns raised by the general public, availability of more affordable options for the relocation site, and untimely submission of the feasibility study and due diligence report before the special session on April 8, 2021.

“Lalong lalo ngayon na kailangan ng ating national government ang pondo dahil sa pandemya…Nasa proseso tayo ng documentation upang maibalik ang pondo para sana sa Kalibo Public Market [Especially at this time when the national government is in dire need of funds for the (management of) the pandemic…We are in the process of documentation to remit the funds originally meant for the Kalibo Public Market],” Ventilacion stressed.

The public market vendors for their part have encouraged Kalibo mayor Emerson Lachica and the members of the Sangguniang Bayan to resolve the current impasse that will allow the local government to build a first-class public market in the capital town of Kalibo. In the meantime, they are staying in place at the existing public market, crowding themselves in what little area was left un-scorched by the fire. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)

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