THE Capitol needs to ask its officials and employees to refund a total of P29.91 million in incentives they received in 2014, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

“The Provincial Government of Cebu granted productivity enhancement incentives (PEI) to its employees at the rate of P22,000 or one month’s salary, whichever is higher, contrary to the maximum amount of P5,000 as prescribed under Executive Order 80,” COA said.

It pointed out that the Province spent P37.495 million on the PEI last year, instead of the maximum P7.585 million.

It recommended that the Capitol ask each of its employees who received P22,000 to give back P17,000. Those who received more would have to refund anything beyond P5,000.

State auditors also asked the Capitol to “observe strictly the limitation on the grant of PEI.”

The Capitol had tried to explain that under Section 9 of Department of Budget and Management Circular 2013-3, it is the Provincial Board that should determine how much PEI can be granted, “depending on the local government unit’s financial capability.”

COA also quoted the Provincial Budget Office as saying that the P5,000 ceiling did not apply to offices with fiscal autonomy, as well as government-owned corporations and government financial institutions.

Acting Provincial Budget Officer Danny Rodas told reporters that COA erred in citing EO 80 as its basis for granting the PEI, as this applied only to government agencies.

He said it’s DBM Circular 2013-3, particularly Section 9, that should be used as the basis for granting the incentive to local government employees.

Rodas said he already submitted a response to the Provincial Legal Office, which will, in turn, answer COA.