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NFA execs told: Return P1.37 million transport allowance

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
NFA execs told: Return P1.37 million transport allowance
NFA Eastern Visayas regional office in Palo, Leyte.
PNA.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended the refund of transportation allowances provided to some officials of the National Food Authority (NFA), whose offices were assigned government vehicles last year.

In an annual audit report of the agency, state auditors said that executive and managerial employees of the NFA central office and regional office in Metro Manila claimed a total of P1.373 million in transportation allowances despite the motor vehicles assigned to their offices.

The COA cited a 1998 ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) stating that government officials with assigned vehicles for their official use are not entitled to collect transportation allowance, whether or not they actually used the vehicle.

It recommended to the NFA management to require the concerned officials to immediately refund the transportation allowances claimed in 2021 as well as discontinue the practice in compliance with existing policies.

In a response, the NFA said the subject motor vehicles were assigned to the agency’s departments and not for the exclusive use of the officials.

It said the vehicles were used by employees in the performance of the official functions of their departments.

The NFA cited previous COA circulars that clarified the 1998 SC ruling.

In a rejoinder, state auditors noted that the cited COA circulars were superseded by Republic Act 11518 or the General Appropriations Act of 2021, which stated that transportation allowance, whether in full or partial amounts, should not be granted to officials who are assigned or actually using government motor transportation.

Vehicle procurement

The same audit report found that the NFA was not able to obtain the most advantageous price in the procurement of 15 pick-up trucks with automatic transmission worth P1.4 million each.

It said the prevailing market price for the vehicle was P1.33 million per unit, lower by P72,400 or a total of P1.08 million for the entire contract.

State auditors said the higher contract cost was due to the failure of the bids and awards committee to consider various factors in preparing the approved budget of contract, particularly when it used the average of quotations obtained from five dealers.

It said the quotations obtained by the bids and awards committee were higher than the suggested retail prices published in the official websites of the car manufacturers.

The NFA, in response, said the higher budget was due to the failure of bidding for the procurement of nine pick-up trucks with manual transmission in 2020 due to very low budget, significant adjustment in prices and management’s decision to upgrade the engine from manual to automatic.

But in response, the audit team maintained its view that the higher cost was the consequence of having a higher approved budget of contract, which it said should not be based merely on quotations submitted by prospective bidders.

“This is to ensure that the most advantageous price for the government would be reflected in the computation of the approved budget of contract as basis for the awarding of contract to the lowest complying bidder,” the COA said.

COA

NFA

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