Freeman Cebu Business

In Bohol Capitol’s P55.3M expenses for foods ‘excessive’ – COA

Ric V. Obedencio - The Freeman

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — The Bohol provincial government has spent a total of P55,320,516.31 for various catering services last year contrary to specific laws, according to the Commission on Audit in its annual audit report posted in its website recently.

COA said, “The total amount of P55,320,516.31 was spent in CY 2017 for food catering services which were indiscriminately provided during all events/gatherings of the province during the year, which is not in keeping with P. D. 1445 and incompatible with the purposes in section 343 of RA 7160.”

Section 343 of RA 7160, provides that “no money shall be appropriated or paid for entertainment or reception except … representation allowances authorized by law or for the reception of visiting dignitaries of foreign governments or foreign missions, or when expressly authorized by the president in specific cases.”

After scrutiny of documents, COA said: “These catering services are excessive and extravagant identified in COA Circular 2012-003.”

It said that “excessive expenditures signify unreasonable expense and exorbitant price,” not usual and proper, and “in excess of reasonable limits.”

COA however acknowledged that under section 465b of RA 7160, the governor is authorized to call and hold assemblies, conventions, seminars and the like of any elective or appointive officials. But they are mandated to observe section 343 of RA 7160.

After review of documents and general ledger, COA found the “catering/meal services are provided in practically all the activities of the provincial government.”

The more than P55.3 million budget represented 53 percent of the total expenses on training, representations and other maintenance and operating expenses, amounting to P103,944,242.19, COA said. I

The breakdown of the P55.3-million follows: Kita ug Ang Gobernador radio program spent P439,920 last year with six catering vouchers; visits of dignitaries (P869,700); medical mission/outreach/job fair (P2.16 million); assemblies, summit, congress (P2.11 million); celebrations/festivals (P4.71 million); assessments (P5.28 million); various programs (P5.46 million); orientation (P5.7 million); and other activities/gatherings (P9.07 million).

“Perusal of documents on a test basis disclosed that most snack/meal cost varies from around P300 to P700 for meetings, gatherings and other short course trainings,” COA said.

It added that “almost every meeting conducted by the offices (of the Capitol) are provided with complete meals,” even if there were only “into discussions or meetings for program implementation within the mandates of personnel involved. Thus, provision for snacks is not necessary.”

COA further said: “Breakfast for the members of Bohol Tri-Media, EDCOM and selected staff of the governor’s office in the Kita ug ang Gobernador radio program, airing every Friday for the week,” was allocated with P493,920 each month, which the agency said was “unnecessary.”

The provincial government, Bids and Awards committee and the PPMU in response, “firmly agrees with the pointers of COA and the concepts of economical and efficient public service, but said “procurement is beyond their control since these were prepared by another implementing office.”

COA then recommended that Capitol submits justification on the incurrence of huge amount for catering services. (FREEMAN)

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