COA flags Tarlac's P86.9 -M disbursements for COVID-19 programs

Published June 20, 2021, 1:59 PM

by Ben Rosario

State auditors found “deficiencies and lapses” in Tarlac provincial government’s expenditures related to the P86.19 million received from the Bayanihan Grant to Provinces to finance its 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response.

The recently-released 2020 annual audit report for Tarlac also noted a low utilization of 37.59 percent for the year’s P434.88 million share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the lack of supporting documents to uphold the “propriety and regularity of disbursement transactions” amounting to the utilization of P105.19 million of the province’s P337.518 million calamity funds.

The audit findings were recently reported by COA Regional Director Ma. Corazon S. Gomez to Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap.

In the report, COA revealed that Tarlac received from the national government some P86.19 million representing Bayanihan Grant to Provinces to finance its COVID-19 response last year. At least P82.9 was spent for the purpose.

“However, deficiencies and lapses were noted in the procurement, recording, distribution and implementation of the various programs, plans and activities pertinent thereto, rendering the validity and regularity of the transactions doubtful,” the COA report said.

Audit records indicated that provincial officials used the national government funding assistance to purchase personal protective equipment (PPEs), medicines, medical equipment and supplies, food provisions and payment of COVID-19 testing fees to the Philippine Red Cross, among others.

Audit examiners also aired doubts into the “regularity, validity and propriety” of the

P42.58 million Tarlac spent to pay for the hazard pay and special risk allowances (SRA) of personnel who reported for work during the observance of the enhanced community quarantine.

The transactions for hazard pay totaling P39.97 million and SRA worth P2.60 million lacked supporting documents, the auditors said.

In the same report, COA lamented that only 37.59 percent or P163,473,811.35 of the total IRA of over P434.88 million was expended.

“With regard to the physical accomplishment rate, of the incurred obligations of P429,788,049.23, only 29 projects totaling P51,186,032.31 or 11.91 have been fully completed, 32 on-going projects amounting to P237,412,380.41 or 55.24 have accomplishment rates of 1% to 90% and 31 projects costing p141,189,6356.51 or 32.85 percent have yet to start or be implemented as of December 31,2020, which is prejudicial to the timely achievement/delivery of socio-development and environmental outcomes to intended beneficiaries,” the state audit agency reported.

On the utilization of the P337.511 million calamity fund for the year, the provincial government was questioned for failing to submit “several supporting documents to prove the propriety and regularity of disbursement transactions amounting to P105,193,312.35”.

Calamity fund expenditures inclulded P149,641,665.78 for COVID-19 response and P56.699 for various disaster preparedness , mitigation and response activities.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office vowed to submit the lacking documentary requirements to address the COA findings.