COA stops PEZA from giving rice allowance

Published November 12, 2020, 4:53 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to stop giving rice allowances to its employees and refund P1.488 million representing cost of uniform for officers and employees who underwent the Special Basic Citizens Military Training conducted last year.

Commission on Audit (COA)

At the same time, COA instructed PEZA officials to claim from the Bureau of Treasury some P358.70 million representing its share from the proceeds of the disposition of military camps in Metro Manila.

            These recommendations are contained in the 2019 PEZA annual audit report released recently by COA to the agency’s board of directors.

            State auditors said PEZA has failed to claim its P358.70 million from the proceeds of the sale of military camps, saying that this deprived the authority of funds “that could have been used in the development of special economic zones.”

            Under Republic Act 7917 or the amended Bases Conversion and Development Act, PEZA is entitled to a two-percent share of the net proceeds from the sale of Metro Manila military camps.

            COA noted that the BCDA has remitted to the treasury department over P478 million as PEZA’s share for the period covering May 1993 to December 2018.

            “To date, PEZA has unclaimed share in the total amount of P358.702 million deposited by BTr in a Special Account in the General Fund,” auditors said.

            COA also declared as without legal basis the P1,500 monthly rice allowance distributed to employees and officials of the  PEZA Home Office and three Special Economic Zones.

            As of 2019, the total amount of rice allowances distributed totaled P8.708 million.

Auditors said the grant of rice allowance is “considered irregular expenditures” as affirmed in a ruling issued by the Supreme Court.

Further, COA said the grant of rice allowances was made in 2019 “without the required approval or confirmation from the Office of the President.”

“We recommended that Management submit the legal basis for the grant of the Rice allowance.  Otherwise, discontinue the payment thereof,” the audit report stated.

Meanwhile, COA demanded that employees and officers who were given uniforms for the training in the military reservist program were ordered to refund government the amount spent for them by PEZA.

Some P1.487 million and P71,253 were released by PEZA to defray of the cost of uniforms and processing of requirements for the SBCMT initiated by the authority’s management.

COA said the uniform and clothing allowance granted by PEZA to SBCMT trainees had exceeded the amount authorized under the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

“We are cognizant of the good intentions of Management to provide support mechanisms to its employees but in doing so, rules and regulations have to be strictly followed,” the audit agency stated.