• COA chief complains of puny budget

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    Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan on Monday complained that the agency’s budget for provincial offices and for the setting up of a central database was whittled down to P405,000 from their proposal of P838 million.

    “We strongly need the budget for [the]establishment of our Provincial Satellite Offices where our auditors will be housed to preserve their independence. As it is, I can hardly tell if our auditor is still with COA or with the agency where they hold office. This state of affairs erodes their independence,” Tan said when she defended COA’s proposed P7.4 billion budget for 2015 before the House appropriations panel.

    “Even if we implement reshuffling of auditors, it won’t be enough. We asked for funding for this but it was removed,” Tan lamented.

    With such a puny budget, the COA chief said they will not be able to construct provincial offices.

    “We still have to finance the construction of the building. With only P400,000 for Capital Outlay, we won’t have enough,” Tan said.

    She added that the commission also has no budget for its information and communications technology needs. Without a Central Database, Tan said COA does majority of its operations manually which usually leads to lost documents.

    “When we gather disbursement vouchers and other evidences, we put them in sacks or just leave [them]in the office. Over time, how can you retrieve the documents which are all over the place? There are instances where we can’t produce it anymore because the documents are already lost,” Tan pointed out.

    As a result of messy documentation, she said there are P2.9 billion unliquidated cash advances involving government funds.

    She said the United States Agency for International Development is helping COA in financing its Central Database project.

    “While I am thankful that they are there to help us, we should be able to do this on our own,” Tan said.

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