COA flags 10 GOCCs over fattened paychecks

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    THE National Housing Authority (NHA), the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) have been listed by the Commission on Audit (COA) as the top three government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) that paid fatter paychecks to their officials and employees in 2019 without authorization.

    In its 596-page 2019 Annual Financial Report (AFR) on GOCCs released yesterday, the COA admonished the government firms and told them to “refrain/discontinue the payment” of the questioned allowances or incentives as these have no legal bases.

    Based on the list provided in the AFR, the NHA was flagged for the sum of P26.286 million representing unauthorized benefits for personnel assigned to the Marawi Project Management Office, which was renamed by the agency as “deployment incentive allowance.”

    Auditors noted that included in the amount was hazard pay equivalent to 100 percent of the employees’ basic pay, which was contrary to Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the Budget Circular No. 2005-4.

    Defending its move, the NHA said the bigger pay was necessary because the employees assigned to the project were at risk due to insurgency issues and the presence of unexploded ordnance in the area.

    On the other hand, the TPB was accosted over the payment of additional bonuses on top of the mid-year and year-end bonuses mandated by labor laws.

    These were in the form of “educational assistance” worth P4.228 million, “socio-economic assistance” totaling P4.442 million, and “Christmas incentive” of P4.103 million.

    Auditors noted that the said bonuses were paid out even if these were not provided for in the agency’s corporate operating budget for that year.

    Likewise flagged for lack of supporting documents was NEA’s release of P10.65 million representing pay out of Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA), longevity pay and terminal leave benefits to its personnel.

    The COA said NEA failed to show that the fund releases were backed by documents, including proof that the planned activities and programs of the agency was accomplished in accordance with the targets set for the year, a certification that the personnel had no pending investigation of prosecution, service records and clearance from money and property accountabilities.

    The NEA agreed with the COA’s view that the required documents should be complied with and that future disbursements should be duly supported by the necessary certifications.

    Also included in the list of questioned incentives were APO Production Units Inc., P7.079 million; IBC 13, P1.817 million; Philippine Postal Corp., P1.746 million; Employees’ Compensation Commission, P1.442 million; and Southern Utilities Management Services Inc., P599,000.

    In a separate finding, government auditors ordered the managements of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) to require its officials and employees to refund allowances which did not conform with COA Circular No. 2012-003 which prohibits the payment of incentives without legal basis or in excess of authorized rates.

    Covered by the adverse finding were gasoline expenses, excess representation and transportation allowances (RATA), telephone/mobile phone expenses, and payment of overtime rates.