P3.7-M lake body package without legal basis – COA

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Grant of a corporate anniversary package of P3.687 million on the 44th anniversary of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was given “without proper authority,” according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

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In its 2013 audit report on the LLDA, the commission said the grant was contrary to Administrative Order (AO) 263 and National Budget Circular (NBC) 452, describing the anniversary as a “none milestone year.”

Under AO 263, as amplified by NBC 452, a government entity is authorized to grant anniversary bonus only on its milestone year, which refers to the 15th anniversary and to every fifth year thereafter, auditors explained.

They noted that the corporate anniversary package was charged to Miscellaneous Expenses of the agency’s Corporate Operating Budget for 2013 for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) instead of being charged to Personal Services.

The auditors said this was “an indication that no funds are available for such benefits.”

“We also noted that the disbursement voucher pertaining to the grant is supported by a duly notarized Deed of Undertaking by the LLDA officials and employees to refund the amount received by them in case the same is disallowed in audit,” they added.

COA has recommended refund by recipients of the corporate anniversary package which, it said, was granted in violation of AO 263 and NBC 452.

The auditors said the LLDA commented that the grant of the package was made in line with a board resolution and that by its charter, the board has the power to fix compensation of all its officials in addition to its power to approve its annual and/or supplemental budgets.

The grant of the anniversary package charged against the Miscellaneous Expenses for 2013 was made by way of a reward for collective performance in attaining the agency mandate and improved fiscal revenue stream, the lake authority said.

It added that the grant “was made at the slightest feeling to alleviate the finances of its employees who were affected by the ‘southwest monsoon’,” the COA report stated.

But the auditors said, “We stand by our opinion that the anniversary bonus granted other than during the agency’s milestone year is without legal basis. Thus, we will be issuing a Notice of Disallowance for said expenditure.”

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