COA flags P397-M disbursements of NCMF in 2019 Hajj

Published August 29, 2021, 3:26 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged over P397 million in disbursements made by the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos for the accommodation of Muslim Filipinos who participated in the Hajj season last year.

Muslims praying

The 2020 Annual Audit Report for NCMF also noted audit issues on the agency’s “unjustified procurement” of high-end electronic gadgets and irregularities in the hiring of job order employees.

COA also questioned the long delay in the liquidation of P117.12 million in cash advances made by accountable officers of the NCMF.

In its initial audit of $1 million or P51.40 million of the disbursements for the 2019 Hajj totaling $7,811,238, COA found various deficiencies such as the payment of the amount through cash advance; physical difference between official receipts issued; the request of the contractor Maad Al Masiyah (MAAD) for payment of SR7.56 million and the lack of document indicaating the actual number of pilgrims accommodated in the hotel.

“While the remaining 70 percent or USD6,811,238.00 (P345,629,461.07) of the total disbursements transferred to the bank account of MAAD could not be validated pending submission of the official receipts and actual number of pilgrims for the payment received,” the audit report stated.

To address the adverse audit findings raised, COA recommended the submission by the Hajj Finance Committee of a certification under oath on the authenticity of official receives issued as proof of payment received from the NCMF.

The commission was also asked to submit the guest list from Al Hidaya Towers where the Filipino-Muslim pilgrims stayed during the Hajj 2019.

“This is to validate actual number of Filipino pilgrims who stayed in that hotel,” COA said.

In response to the audit findings, Junnainah Nuska, special disbursing officer, said the Saudi Arabian laws on taxation and other laws “do not require strict indication of invoice numbers in documents.” Citing cultural and customary practices observed in transactions, Nuska called for respect to the business practices or customs of the limited number of provider.

COA also cited irregularities in the hiring of job order employees. Auditors said the NCMF disbursed over P5 million for JO employees who did jobs already being performed by regular NCMF personnel.

Audit examiners also noted that the NCMF central office and nine other regional offices have failed to liquidate some P117.12 million cash advances.

COA asked the chief accountant to send demand letters to accountable officers with long outstanding balances to justify the expenditures.

“Failure to liquidate the said CAs shall be a valid ground for the withholding of his/her salary and imposition of other sanctions, if warranted,” the state audit agency stated.