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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Baguio City Council awaits Panagbenga audit

BAGUIO Flower Festival executive committee chairman Councilor Elmer Datuin assured the detailed audit report of the Panagbenga Festival is in order and will be presented to the public.

Datuin said he plans to set a public hearing to reveal what transpired in the festival.

During the regular council meeting Monday, Councilor Peter Fianza pushed to set a date when the detailed audit will be released to which Datuin said will be out in 20 days, which will be calendared in the April 16 session of the body.

“All is in motion,” Datuin assured adding the head of the festival finance committee, City Budget Officer Letty Clemente has written private partner, Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated (BFFFI) chairman emeritus, Mayor Mauricio Domogan for the submission of the audit report.

Fianza added to have a better festival partner agencies should also be called for their input including the Baguio City Police Office, the General Services Office as well as the City Environment and Parks Office.

Datuin stressed the two trade fairs, Session Road in Bloom and the Burnham Blooms, should have a detailed audit report. The alderman said this year’s audit will also reveal sponsorships which came in as well as expenses.

It was this year that Domogan issued a new Administrative Order to set in place dealings of the festival mandating all finances to go through the city.

“All payments for booths, special permits and related fees at the Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition as well as the Session Road in Bloom activities will be paid by interested persons, natural and juridical, at the City Treasurers Office.

The City Treasurer shall assign a space at the One Stop Shop Center, for the BFFI staff and the personnel of the City Treasurer to utilize from January 2 to February 15 to collect the said fees.”

“Special permits and garbage fees will be collected and received by the official receipts of the city while payments for the lease rental of the vending spaces shall be collected and receipted by the official receipts of the BFFI which will be utilized for the operational expenses of the festival,” the AO states.

Domogan in a bid for transparency of funds also ordered the committees in the Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition and the Session Road in Bloom will prepare the detailed accounting of the income and expenses covering the said activities within one month from the closing and submit it to the Finance Committee.

The new rules in the conduct of the festival was set in tone by a Commission on Audit report by Margie Bongait who recommended to formulate guidelines of funds and submission of financial statements for transparency and accountability; execute a MOA between the city and the BFFI which has to be confirmed by the local council for efficiency and effective operations.

Bongait also cited the collection of special fees during the festival done by the BFFI which should have been done by the City Treasurers Office mandated by the local government code.
“The act of allowing a private entity to collect fees and charges was contrary to fundamental principles governing the exercise of taxing and other revenue raising power of the local government unit,” Bongait’s report said.

The COA Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) for the annual festival has pushed the local council to demand for detailed reports from the private organization.

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