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Friday, April 19, 2019

Festival audit report to be presented to city council in 20 days

COUNCILOR Elmer Datuin, chairman of the Baguio Flower Festival (BFF) executive committee, has assured that the detailed audit report on the recently concluded festival will be presented to the Baguio City Council and to the public.

He said the report is expected to be completed in 20 days. It will be presented to the council during its regular session on April 16.

“All is in motion,” Datuin assured, after Councilor Peter Fianza pushed for the setting of a schedule for the presentation of the report.

Datuin said City Budget Officer Letty Clemente, head of the festival finance committee, has written BFF Foundation Incorporated chairman emeritus Mayor Mauricio Domogan to ask for the report.

The council is asking BFF Foundation, the private organization in charge of the festival, to provide a detailed financial statement based on an administrative order (AO) issued by Domogan and a recommendation by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Domogan had issued an AO mandating that all revenues related to the festival 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 shall be paid by interested persons, natural and juridical, at the City Treasurers Office,” the AO states.

The city treasurer was directed to assign a staff at the One Stop Shop Center from January 2 to February 15 to collect the fees.

In a bid for transparency, Domogan also ordered the committees in charge of the Baguio Blooms Exhibition and exposition and the Session Road in Bloom to prepare the detailed accounting of the income and expenses within one month from the closing and submit it to the finance committee.

These new rules were drawn up after a COA Audit Observation Memorandum recommended that collection of special fees during the festival should be done by the City Hall Treasury, not by the foundation.

The COA report cited the Local Government Code which provides that “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.”

The report, which was prepared by state auditor Margie Bongait, recommended that guidelines be formulated on management of the funds and submission of financial statements for transparency and accountability.

It also recommended that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) be executed between the city and the BFFI. This has to be confirmed by the local council for efficiency and effective operations.

Meanwhile, Fianza said other partner agencies should also be asked for their inputs on how to improve the conduct of the festival. He was referring to the Baguio City Police Office, the General Services Office and the City Environment and Parks Office.
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