The payment of almost P24 million in Christmas bonuses to regular and contractual employees of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) lacked the approval of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, state auditors said.
In a report on PEZA, the Commission on Audit (COA) said that for 2013, PEZA paid P23.950 million on the basis of Administrative Order No. 2003-016 issued by the PEZA Director General.
Under the law, granting bonuses requires the approval of the Office of the President or a recommendation by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
But PEZA maintained that it is not covered by the law.
The COA also reported that a total of P166.588 million was paid to PEZA personnel in 2013 for salaries, allowances and benefits based on salary rates that were not approved by the President.
“This was despite the Notices of Disallowance [ND] issued totaling P624.198 million [as of December 31, 2013]for similar disbursements made in CYs 2009-2012,” the auditors said.
Upon review of the disbursements made during in 2012, the auditors found that payments to PEZA employees for salaries, allowances, benefits and remittances made to GSIS, PhilHealth and Provident Fund were computed based on the new salary rates approved by the PEZA Board of Trustees effective July 1, 2009.
State auditors, however, said the new rates were neither approved nor reported to the President and thus, resulted in overpayment of P166.588 million.
COA recognized PEZA’s authority to promulgate its own compensation plan as provided by law, but it said PEZA is also mandated to make its system conform with the Salary Standardization Law.
“Any increase in salary or compensation of GOCCs/GFIs [government-owned and -controlled corporations/government financial institutions] that are not in accordance with the SSL shall be subject to the approval of the President,” the auditors said.