By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to pay the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) some P82.7 million in unpaid service fees in connection with the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program in 2013 and earlier.
In a decision released recently by the COA-Commission Proper (COA-CP), the petition for money claim filed by LBP was granted, although reduced from P87,048,915.00 to P82,719,496.00.
Records of the case showed that LBP filed the petition after allegedly failing to receive from the DSWD unpaid service fees of accredited CCT conduits covering 2013 and prior years.
LBP and DSWD entered into a memorandum of agreement authorizing the bank to “identify, negotiate, accredit, and enter into separate agreements with qualified CCT conduits to service CCT grants for distribution to CCT beneficiaries.”
As part of the deal, LBP was supposed to receive service fees from DSWD within five working days after receipt of payment from the latter.
In 2013, the LBP submitted its billings for the unpaid service fees to the DSWD through the four authorized mode of payments.
“The DSWD processed and prepared the corresponding disbursement vouchers, but was not able to pay the amounts to the CCT conduits for being unbooked obligations as the same were incurred in 2013 and prior years,” COA disclosed.
In 2015, the LBP filed the petition as it urged COA to compel DSWD to release the full amount it owes the bank.
Responding to the petition, the DSWD admitted that it indeed owes the LBP payment for the service fees, but is prohibited from paying under Republic Act Nos. 10352 and 10633.
The two laws provide that unbooked obligations should first be validated by COA before payment can be authorized by the Department of Budget and Management.
In its ruling, the COA-CP ruled in favor of LBP, saying the right to payment of the service fees of CCT conduits has been affirmed by the DSWD.
“It also bears emphasizing that the non-payment was not due to any violation of law, rules, or regulation. The only reason for non-payment of the said service fees was because the LBP was not able to submit its billing statements on time,” the three-man audit panel stated.
However, the COA-CP adjusted the amount to be paid to P82,719,496.00, as it noted that the difference of P9,553,412.50 had been certified by the officer-in-charge of the supervising auditor.