COA reports

COA flags ‘irregular’ NTF-ELCAC spending of Butuan City

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COA flags ‘irregular’ NTF-ELCAC spending of Butuan City

CITY HALL. File photo shows Butuan City Hall on September 25, 2018.

Lucky Ambago Purok Otso via Wikimedia Commons

State auditors found that the city government released funds beyond the allowed period. Butuan officials agreed with the COA recommendation to seek an extension of the utilization period of the funds.

MANILA, Philippines – State auditors tagged as “irregular” a total of P154.77 million released by the Butuan City government under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2023.

The audit team said the releases violated Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Commission on Audit (COA) circulars and Presidential Decree No. 1445.

DBM Local Budget Circular No. 135, issued in 2021, specified that amounts under the P280 million NTF-ELCAC Local Government Support Fund-Support to Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP) released to Butuan City may be disbursed only until December 31, 2022.

“Post-audit of transactions disclosed that funds aggregating P154,768,914.121 were also disbursed in CY 2023 as payment for progress billings and final payments, which were beyond the December 31, 2022 fund validity period of the 2021 LGSF-SBDP of the NTF-ELCAC,” COA said.

Section 4 of PD 1445 prohibits the release of public funds by any government agency outside of the appropriation law or other specific statutory authority, while Section 3 of COA Circular No. 2012-003 defined irregular expenditure as “incurred without adhering to established rules, regulations, procedural guidelines, policies, principles or practices.”

COA also said that the “unutilized balance of the Fund was not reverted to the National Treasury.” This, it said, “not only gave doubt on the propriety and validity of the pertinent disbursements but also resulted in the incurrence of an irregular expenditure.”

State auditors also said that out of the P17.51 million financial assistance released to Butuan City by the DBM for Typhoon Odette-affected local government units, the city government disbursed P15.36 million on August 8, 2023.

As in the case of the NTF-ELCAC fund, releases from that financial aid was allowed only until December 31, 2022 and the unutilized portion of should have been remitted to the National Treasury.

In response to the audit findings, the Butuan City government agreed with the recommendation to seek an extension of the utilization period of the funds.

The city government also committed to COA that it will strictly adhere to spending rules and regulations in its future fund releases. –

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