THE Commission on Audit (COA) has found 27 common deficiencies in the operations of the 80 Cebu City barangays for 2011 and 2012.
In a forum organized by the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) yesterday, COA Cebu City State Auditor Cymbeline Celia Uy said the most common lapse by the barangays involved unliquidated cash advances.
COA Circular 2012-004 provides that cash advances must be liquidated immediately.
Those who fail to do so may be charged for violating the Revised Penal Code because non-liquidation serves as evidence that a person misused public funds.
Uy did not say how much was not liquidated by the barangays.
COA also found that the barangays incurred surcharges and penalties for failing to pay on time their utility bills.
Uy said barangay officials should make their personnel answer why water and electricity payments were delayed.
In the bidding of various barangay projects, Uy said, state auditors observed that some lacked documents.
This violates Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which states that bidding documents should include among others the approved budget contract, terms of reference, plans and technical specifications of the projects, bid form, eligibility requirements, bid security form and contract form among others.
“This (absence of documents) may have resulted in the irregular disbursement of government funds and prejudiced the interest of the government,” Uy said.
In the procurement of barangay items, Uy said some of the barangays split the contract in order to avoid competitive bidding. This is another violation of RA 9184 and may have prevented the government from getting the most advantageous prices and work quality, she added.
She urged barangay officials to refrain from splitting contracts.
Another observation COA made, Uy said, is that most of the barangays were not able to fully use their budget for gender and development (GAD), depriving constituents of the use of such funds.
The GAD budget is five percent of the barangays’ annual budget. It is supposed to be used, among others, for the economic empowerment of marginalized women, fulfillment of women's human rights, practice of gender-responsive government and address gender-
Other common deficiencies COA noted are:
* specification of the brand in procuring items;
* failure of the barangay to use the Government Electronic Procurement System in the procurement of supplies, materials and equipment;
* failure of the barangay to provide warranty security for the procurement of goods; and
* delayed submission of their financial statements.
Uy said COA hopes that the barangays would be able to address the deficiencies this year.
She urged barangay officials to become familiar with the provisions of RA 9184 and COA rules and regulations.
ABC president Councilor Philip Zafra yesterday told Sun.Star Cebu that the ABC will come up with a barangay operations manual to guide local officials.
He said they will be collating the salient points of RA 9184 and COA rules and regulations in the manual and distribute copies to all the 80 barangays.
Zafra said their forum with COA yesterday will not be the last but just the start of a series of meetings together with the barangays.