• COA rules P2.1-million water project in Samar ‘illegal’

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    The Commission on Audit (COA) marked a P2.1-million water project illegal alongside P200,000 released for 10 more transactions, which may prompt water district officials to return monies spent for it.

    Senior officials of the COA ruled in a 13-page decision that the multimillion worth of cash, which the Catbalogan Water District released before 2004 must be returned after it “matured” into a disallowance.

    Audit Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan and Commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon ordered that the notices of suspension the construction of small town water supply sector projects with the Asian Development Bank costing P2.12 million be now declared a disallowance.

    At first, COA slapped a notice of suspension on the project for lack of registration of contractors and bidder’s bond during the bidding, as well as, documents not properly accomplished.

    “The winning bidder did not issue an official receipt of the payments for work accomplished. Instead, only a reimbursement expense receipt was issued,” COA stated.

    A notice of suspension is a temporary disallowance of a transaction. It will only be cleared until more requirements were presented to avoid pecuniary loss of the government.

    In their defense the provincial water utilities officials said that the projects could not be suspended because of “correctness can be sufficiently established by the documents.”

    However, in a review of the decision of regional audit directors based in Palo, Leyte province, the Commission en banc said that the two notices of suspensions “already matured” into disallowance from failure of water officials to settle the adverse decision within 90 days.

    For this, the suspension was ordered marked disallowed, which means that it could be “irregular, unnecessary, excessive or extravagant.”

    Other expenses of the water district of the provincial capital of Samar, which Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged, related to P220,844.12.

    The expenses, marked illegal, included payment for the travel allowance and per diems of employees (P8,800); fuel and meal expenses of the lawyer representing the water district (P11,674.23); honorarium of bodyguards (P13,500); and rice and clothing allowance of the interim board of directors (P25,600).

    Also payment for the traveling expenses of a job order employee (P2,040); extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (P28,000); monetization of leave credits (P74,551.78); accident and health insurance (P4,258); and various allowances of the interim general manager (P54,420) were also disallowed.

    “In fine, this Commission finds the justifications submitted by the appellants unmeritorious to warrant the reversal the notices of disallowances,” the COA ruled.

    “The regional director is hereby directed to issue corresponding notices of disallowance for notices of suspension [on the water project], both having matured to disallowance,” the ruling added.

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