MANILA – A lawmaker on Thursday said a pre-audit system in the disbursement of public funds may be the answer to prevent controversies involving the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) on various government agencies.
San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes said the government can implement a pre-audit system, wherein projects and contracts are reviewed even before funds are released.
Robes said pre-auditing minimizes any questions on how public funds are used, which in the process, helps protect the credibility of institutions as well as elected and appointed officials while in service.
Robes filed House Bill 7124, which seeks to establish a mandatory pre-audit system of all government disbursements to ensure that public funds are not lost to graft and corruption, plunder, or leakage.
This will ensure that government funds are used according to what they were allocated for within the allotted period.
Under the bill, all expenditures and uses of public funds pertaining to infrastructure projects, procurement of goods and consulting services, including lease of goods and real property, of any branch, office agency or instrumentality of the government, including state universities and colleges, government-owned and controlled corporations, government financial institutions and local government governments shall undergo mandatory pre-audit before any funds are released for such projects or contracts.
“This system is for the protection of our officials, our people, and our institutions because it ensures that the government agency has the capacity to implement the program within the allotted period,” she said.
To ensure that there will be no delay in the disbursements, the COA shall issue a certificate of pre-audit within a period of 15 days from receipt of all pertinent documents.
If the COA does not issue a certificate, it is mandated to decline the issuance of the same, on valid and legal grounds within a period of 15 days from receipt of all pertinent documents relative to the intended disbursement of public funds.
To implement the pre-audit system, the bill creates a pre-audit office at the COA for the manpower requirement to guarantee immediate compliance with the system’s requirements.
For purposes of transparency, the COA is mandated to submit an annual report to the President of the Philippines and to Congress on the status of the implementation of the pre-audit system not later than June 30 of every year following its approval.
“With the controversy hounding the Department of Health and other government agencies and instrumentalities, this affects the credibility of our officials, our institutions and the delivery of goods and services. It is the Filipino people who suffer," she said.
This bill, Robes said, seeks to address this by making sure that even before public funds are released, they are audited to ensure that they go to where they should go at the allotted time.
"Walang delay at walang nasasayang na pera ng bayan (There is no delay and no public funds are wasted),” Robes said.
The COA has released its 2020 audit report, flagging deficiencies that need to be explained by the government agencies but the public immediately perceived as irregularities in the use of public funds.
Following the release of the COA report, state departments, including the Department of Health (DOH), have come under fire.
The DOH, which leads the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic response efforts, has earned the public ire after COA reported deficiencies of around PHP67.73 billion in Covid-19 response funds.
In his public address on Monday night, Duterte said the COA found deficiencies in the DOH’s fund allocation for Covid-19 response efforts because of “incomplete paperwork”. (PNA)