The city government of Santiago in Isabela failed to utilize its tobacco excise tax funds amounting to P707,931 since 2010, state auditors said.
In a 2016 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said a verification of the financial reports showed that the city’s P707,931 excise tax funds were not being utilized.
The auditors were told by the city accountant that there were no more tobacco farmers in the city to use the funds.
The auditors maintained however that the funds could have been used for cooperative and livelihood projects
“Farmers will be benefited if the fund can be used for projects such as cooperative projects and livelihood projects or projects,” the auditors said.
The city government vowed to work with the city agriculture office to determine the projects and the beneficiaries of the said tobacco excise fund.
The COA urged city mayor Joseph Tan to utilize the excise fund and prioritize the implementation of projects in order to enhance the farmer beneficiaries’ income.
The COA told the city government to follow the provisions of the law or Republic Act 8240 which states that the tobacco excise fund be spent on cooperative projects that would enhance better quality of agricultural products and increase income and productivity of farmers; livelihood projects particularly the development of alternative farming system to enhance farmer’s income; and agro-industrial projects that will enable tobacco farmers to be involved in the management and subsequent ownership of projects such as postharvest and secondary processing.