COA hits snack expenses for tour

STATE auditors want Talisay City officials to explain why they spent P465,900 in Special Education Funds (SEF) for the snacks of students who attended a cultural immersion program in 2015 when the rules do not allow it.

The Commission on Audit (COA) noted several discrepancies in the transaction, including the use of the SEF and questionable participants and attendance sheets.

The City charged P465,900 to the SEF for the purchase of snacks for Grades 4 to 10 students who participated in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “walking tour,” an activity that sought to promote Talisay’s historical sites. 

Among other recommendations, COA told the City to use the SEF in accordance with the prioritized programs as provided for under Section 100(c) of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code, which states that SEF should be prioritized for the repair and rehabilitation of school buildings and facilities.

“Although the students and teachers may have benefited from these expenses, these have deprived the students and teachers of the benefits due to them that can be derived only from the implementation of programs and projects that are in accordance with the governing laws, rules and regulations regarding the utilization of SEF,” state auditors noted. 

In an interview, Mayor Eduardo Gullas said he will order a fact-finding investigation to determine who was responsible for the disbursement made during the term of former mayor Johnny De los Reyes.

“We will do what is necessary after the result of the investigation,” City Administrator Rudelyn Navarro said.

After reviewing the transaction, state auditors found out that the activity ran for 42 days, including Dec. 19 to 31, 2015, which was part of DepEd’s Christmas break.

State auditors also noted that Dec. 19, 20, 26 and 27 fell on a Saturday and Sunday. 

The attendance sheets also didn’t indicate the name of the schools that participated, the grade and sections of the students and the activity attended. 

They also found that the date of the activity was not specified, which made it difficult for the auditing team to determine how many students attended the activity on a particular date. 

The signatures in the attendance sheets also appeared to be the same.             

Also, the attendance sheet for Dec. 22, 2016 included 644 people identified only as dancers, haulers, drivers, “real angels,” “moving angels,” and others, rendering the sheet questionable. 

As stated in the documents, 11,925 packs of snacks were supposedly delivered during the duration of the activity, but there were only 9,188 participants, resulting in an excess of 2,737 packs.

State auditors recommended, among others, to require persons responsible to justify in writing the spending of P300,375, which represents the amount paid for snacks delivered during the Christmas break. (JKV)

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