Belmonte seeks power to audit for House

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To stop misuse of government funds, the leadership at the House of Representatives is considering forming a committee that will audit state agencies and local government units (LGUs).

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Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday proposed the creation of a committee on public accounts and audit, a panel which will have the power to call and hold to account all national government agencies, LGUs, government-owned and -controlled corporations and other state instrumentalities for their use of public funds, and to undertake legislative action to improve transparency of government operations.

Belmonte noted that reports from the Commission on Audit showed that most of COA’s recommendations were not implemented and that a significant number of audit reports resulted only in qualified opinions or disclaimers.

“We need to explore new legislative paths to bringing needed services to our people. Resting on the strength of the power of legislative oversight, I am directing the Committee on Rules to study the creation of a Public Accounts and Audit Committee. These [COA reports] indicate possible misuse of public funds and inefficient public spending,” the Speaker said when he opened the Second Regular Session of the 16th Congress.

“Congress holds the power of the purse and legislative oversight. We must exercise these to strengthen accountability mechanisms and ensure the proper and lawful allocation of public funds,” he added.
The Speaker underscored the urgency of passing measures that will sustain economic growth such as the bill that will establish the Bangsamoro region, the Anti-Political Dynasty and Freedom of Information bills and a measure lifting the foreign ownership restrictions on business and public utilities provided for in the Constitution.

“The tasks we face are clear, more responsive legislation for sustained growth and inclusive development, more efficient and disciplined legislative oversight to strengthen government accountability and enhance government performance and more resolute efforts at international reforms,” Belmonte said.

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