Flagged COVID-19 funds already explained – DOT chief

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Flagged COVID-19 funds already explained â DOT chief
In this May 2018 file photo, newly appointed Tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Department of Tourism office in Makati City yesterday.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has reiterated that all the recommendations of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the supposed low utilization rate of COVID-19 funds are already “duly complied with.”

“It should be noted that while the COA submitted its observations relative to these expenditures, these were neither suspended nor disallowed by the Commission. In any case, DOT continues to ensure that all recommendations of COA are duly complied with,” said Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.

Auditors earlier called out the department for the supposed low utilization rate of COVID-19 funds, which they said was “due to the late downloading of funds.”

However, in her message, Puyat said that the DOT “observes utmost accountability and transparency in its operations and as a result, has received the highest audit ratings from COA for the past two years.”

Puyat added that the regional offices have already explained the legal bases of the flagged funds as she reiterated that the department is “firm and steadfast” in its commitment to adhere to existing laws, rules and regulations.

In an audit report, the COA said there were “uncorrected misstatements” in their audit, due to accounting errors and improper accounting treatment of transactions amounting to P39,690,514.85.

Of that amount, P3,929,144.05 remained uncorrected at year-end.

“The uncorrected misstatements are considered not material to affect the fairness of the financial statements as of Dec. 31, 2020 of the DOT,” the report read.

The COA earlier gave the tourism department “unqualified opinion” in its 2020 financial statements.



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