COA orders National Youth Commission officials, employees to refund excess pay

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)  – The Commission on Audit has told officials and employees of National Youth Commission (NYC) to refund in what it deemed were unauthorized extra compensation and excess reimbursement of meals and travel expenses incurred in 2018.

COA's 2018  audit report on NYC released on May 23 flagged incorrect credits of compensatory time-off (CTO) and Special Day-off (SDO), improper monetizing of leave credit and excessive claims of travel and meals.

Overall though, the COA report said: "The Auditor rendered an unqualified opinion on the fairness of presentation of the financial statements of the NYC as at December 31, 2018." An unqualified opinion means, according to accountingcoach.com, "the auditor has concluded that the financial statements present fairly the results of the company's operations and its financial position according to generally accepted accounting principles."

The COA annual report noted that in the Civil Service Commission-Department of Budget and Management Joint Circular No. 2, series of 2004, the CTO is supposed to be a non-monetary benefit given to an employee in lieu of overtime pay.

However, 67 of the NYC's 76 permanent employees availed of the privilege and converted these into cash while “on travel status.”

COA also flagged the unauthorized availment of CTOs/SDOs by NYC Commissioners-at-large Anthony Paul Pangilinan and James Ceasar Ventura. The Policies and Guidelines on Overtime Services and Overtime Pay for Government Employees (CSC-DBM Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2015) states that any personnel holding a position higher than a division chief or equivalent level is not authorized to render overtime services.

“Further, we noted that travels on a Saturday/Sunday were allotted for travel back to official station/residence and were paid with the corresponding per diem/travel allowance,” the COA said.

All in all, the COA marked an amount of P680,675.91 as incorrect credits of CTO/SDO.

The report noted that  NYC management agreed with COA's recommendation to implement salary deductions or reduction of accumulated leave credits for the unauthorized payments.

State auditors also noted that 99.3% or P858,926.63 out of P865,035.07 monetized leave credits paid in 2018 last year were invalid. COA said the reasons provided employees were not accepted in Section 23 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave as well as Section 5.14 of COA Circular No. 2012-01, which defined the grounds for the monetization of leave credits.

That circular enumerated that among the accepted reasons for monetizing leave credits were health or medical needs of the employee or immediate member of the family, financial assistance for natural calamities and emergencies, educational needs of the employee, and payment of mortgages and loans.

Instead, the NYC allowed monetization for house renovation or repair, house bills, children’s educational expenses, and payment of personal loans.

“We observed that their reasons for availing the 50% monetization of vacation/sick leave credits …were not among the valid and justifiable reasons enumerated in the Omnibus Rules on Leave,” the COA said.

COA ordered the NYC to submit an explanation justifying the monetization of vacation/sick leave credits despite the absence of valid grounds.

State auditors also found excessive claims of travel expenses totaling P129,718.66.

This amount represented claims for reimbursement beyond the P900 limit for meals of regular employees and P1,200 for officials; as well as P1,500 for staff accommodation and P4,000 for officials’ lodging.

“Audit of the travelling expense account and verification of the documents supporting the claims …revealed excessive claims,” the COA said.

 COA ordered concerned officials and employees to refund the excess claims based on a Notice of Disallowance issued on February 20, 2019.  – Rappler.com