State auditors have told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to demand immediate liquidation of P396 million representing cash advances that remained unliquidated or only partly settled as of November last year.
The recommendation was made in the 2015 audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the Comelec.
“Cash advances totaling P396,033,454.96, which were recorded as early as March 12, 1999, still remained unsettled and/or partially settled as of November 30, 2015. Of the said amount, P163,626,948.67 represented the top 100 extracted amounts ranging from P500,000.00 to P53 million,” the auditors said.
“Further, cash advances were granted to Accountable Officers (AO) even if their previous cash advances have not yet been liquidated/settled, contrary to Sections 4.1.2 and 4.1.3 of COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1977,” the report added.
Under COA Circular No. 97-002, which contains guidelines on the grant and use of cash advances, a cash advance must be reported as soon as it has served its purpose.
It also provides that any official or employee should have first settled or made a proper accounting of the previous cash advance given to him before he is allowed additional cash advances.
The auditors noted that cash advances had been granted to several AOs even if their previous cash advances had not yet been settled or liquidated.
“However, we also noted that for CY [Calendar Year] 2016, Management issued a Minute Resolution that no cash advances shall be granted to AOs with unliquidated cash advances,” they said.
The audit team recommended that the Comelec require the Accounting Division to examine and update the Aging Schedule of Receivables to identify those whose cash advances remain unsettled or partly settled “and demand the immediate liquidation thereof.”
It also told the poll body to require the division to “strictly comply with COA Circular No. 97-002 by monitoring cash advances and requiring the concerned AOs to liquidate their cash advances promptly; and by avoiding the granting of cash advances to AOs with previous unliquidated cash advances.”
Another recommendation was for the Accounting Division to consider withholding the salaries of employees with outstanding cash advances.
The Comelec “commented that for CY 2016, they have strictly complied with COA Circular No. 97-002 in the granting of cash advances to AOs by not issuing additional cash advances to those who did not comply with the proper accounting of their previous cash advances.”
It is also preparing demand letters for those with unliquidated cash advances, based on the audit report.
“Considering that CY 2016 is an election year, Management exerted its best effort to limit the issuance of additional cash advances. As compared to the previous practice of resorting to the cash advance system in the payment of various election expenses such as training and payment of honoraria of poll workers and Comelec employees, a substantial amount of these expenses was paid directly to creditors,” the poll body said.
“As practiced regularly, Management is exerting its best effort to reconcile the balances between the Aging Schedule of Cash Advances and the GL [general ledger]balances,” the Comelec said.