THE bonuses received by board members of Cagayan de Oro Water District (Cowd) are not far behind the perks that employees of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are getting.

Each of the MWSS board members was reportedly getting P250,000 "token" bonuses once his/her term of office ended.

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That pales in comparison to the "golden parachute" given to an outgoing Cowd board member sometime in 2005. The amount: P720,000 - nearly thrice the MWSS windfall.

Cowd board chairman Joel A. Baldelovar was unable to furnish Sun.Star paper with their latest salary package. Instead, he directed Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

But a study of Cowd's books showed that its board of directors received P718,000 in 2005 and P930,000 in 2006 as bonuses and allowances, which is not far behind the P2.5 million the MWSS board members allegedly received each year in benefits and emoluments.

The Commission on Audit (COA) noted that board of directors in government owned and operated entities are only allowed to receive P20,000 per month, or P240,000 annually.

The study also said that for every P1 each water consumer pays, at least a quarter of it goes to the perks of the board members.

Conducted by the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the City Cooperative Development Council (CCDC), the study is based on the 2005 and 2006 audit reports of the COA.

The study noted that in 2005, COA declared the P130 million disbursements by Cowd as "without legal basis," meaning the allocations were disallowed by existing laws.

In the succeeding year, the "illegal" appropriations slipped to P105 million.

The CDCC study estimated that for every P1 of water bill a consumer paid in 2005, 37 centavos was spent illegally, and 21.5 centavos in 2006.

According to state auditors, Cowd officials receive P4,500 per day in travel allowance, exceeding the P800 per day cap set on government officials.

The benefits they received include a year-end incentive bonus of P100,800, service incentive amounting to P84,000, anniversary productivity bonus of P33,600, grocery allowance of P30,000 and financial assistance of P20,000 for each member of the board.

The local water firm also had the penchant to break procurement rules.

According to COA, Cowd did not bid out materials worth some P23 million in 2005 and 2006. (DVA)