• Make veterans a priority – state auditors

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    The Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) should closely monitor the use of its funds and give priority to delivering services, benefits and aid to its members, state auditors said.

    This recommendation came in a 2014 audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA) on VFP, particularly on the use of its Corporate Operating Budget (COB).

    “The federation incurred expenses totaling P65.15 million in CY [calendar year]2014 wherein some of its expenditure items exceeded the amount budgeted, a greater portion utilized for personal services and a minimal amount for direct benefits and/or assistance to veteran members, thereby creating doubts on whether or not the purpose for which it was created has been achieved,” the auditors said.

    They noted that VFP’s 2014 budget was for, among others, projects for free medicines, medical care, aid to indigent veterans and other welfare programs for veterans.

    VFP’s primary purpose under Republic Act 2640, which created the federation, is to provide benefits to Filipino veterans, the auditors said.

    According to the audit report, the federation incurred P65.15 million in expenses during 2014 excluding depreciation expense as against the P114.313 million budget or a variance of P49.163 million.

    The auditors compared each budget item against itemized expenditures and noted several variances and/or deficiencies.

    “Total expenditures for the special program and support services specifically for medicine and burial assistance which are primarily for the assistance and/or benefit of the veterans and their beneficiaries posted a minimal amount of P7.51 million and P1.029 million respectively, as compared with other costs of administration showing that both budgets were underutilized by 69.96 percent and 79.42 percent respectively,” they said.

    Medicines had a budget of P25 million while burial assistance had P5 million, based on the audit report.

    Meanwhile, total funds spent for Personal Services “exceeded the budget in significant amounts.”

    According to the audit report, the VFP spent P7.39 million for Salaries and Wages (Permanent and Casuals), which was budgeted with P6.038 million; P6.848 million for Salaries (Allowances) of Officers, which had a budget of P6.51 million; P5.11 million for Bonuses of Officers and Employees, which had a budget of only P4.23 million; P452,595 for Clothing Allowances (Employees), which had a budget of P223,608; P675,855.50 for Rice Subsidy, which was budgeted with P574,922.

    The audit team told the VFP to ensure that programs/projects for veterans’ benefits would be more defined and prioritized in budget preparation, and that the required provisions and cost for activities are well planned to avoid significant variances.

    It also told the federation to require its Accounting and Budget Divisions to closely monitor fund use and to assess whether the funds were spent as budgeted.

    Further, the VFP was told to “assess the incurrence of expenditures in excess of the budget, as well as the budgeted funds which were not utilized and consider the causes/problems in the preparation of the corporate plans and budget.”

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