The Commission on Audit (COA) has taken to task the Quezon City government for granting excessive discounts amounting to P415.85 million to its constituents in the payment of Real Property Tax (RPT) and other taxes that should have financed education programs of the city.
In its 2019 annual audit report on QC, the COA also chided city officials for failing to obtain the Certificate of Recognition as a Higher Education Institution (HEI) for the Quezon City University, thus resulting in the denial of free tuition and other school fees for some 7,518 enrolled students.
COA also observed that a total of P876.381 million in payments made to various suppliers and contractors for supplies and goods “were not supported with complete documentation.”
This gave rise to apprehensions on the “validity and regularity of the transactions” covered by the payments.
These audit observations were among the adverse comments made by the audit team led by Director Omar S. Roque and were contained in a letter sent to QC Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Belmonte took over the reins of the city government after being elected mayor in the second half of 2019. She took over from former Mayor Herbert Bautista.
Auditors disclosed that in 2019 the city government granted a total P766,462,358.44 in discounts on RPT payments of property owners.
Grant of discounts for prompt and advance payments of real property taxes was authorized under QC Ordinance No. SP-2790.
However, COA computed the discounts granted based on Article 342 of the implementing rules and regulations of the Local Government Code.
Using the LGC as basis, state auditors said excess discounts extended to taxpayers reached P415,856,866.65.
“Hence the excess discounts deprived the city of additional resources that could have been used for priority programs, projects and basic services for the benefit of its constituents,” auditors stated.
In response, the Belmonte administration said 20 percent incentives for RPT payments were allowed for the city government to be able to increase its income, pointing out that “the end result redounds to the best interest and benefits of the taxpaying public.”
COA asked the management of QCU to expedite the process of appointing a full-time president of the university.
The “non-appointment of a full-time president” has resulted in the failure of the university to obtain a Certificate of Recognition as a Higher Education Institution from the Commission on Higher Education.
“Thus, 7518 qualified students were deprived of free tuition fees and other school fees for the 1st Semester of the Academic Year, 2019-2020,” COA disclosed.
Auditors also observed that “physical facilities” of the university were not yet functional while instructional materials and equipment have not yet been acquired by the QCU.
“Taken altogether, these prevented the issuance of the Government Authority by CHED in some of their offered Academic Programs,” COA lamented.