COA: Where is P2M for cancelled 2020 Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival?
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu – The Commission on Audit (COA) is looking for the P2 million that was disbursed to fund the preparation of the cancelled 2020 Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival in Minglanilla town, southern Cebu.
In its 2020 audit report, government auditors said the allocation that was released as financial assistance to participating schools and for the payment of seminar registration have not been returned despite the decision of town officials to forgo the staging of the annual festival because of the pandemic.
No supporting documents were also submitted “to substantiate such disbursements, resulting in irregular disbursement.”
Town officials led by Mayor Elanito Peña told auditors that they will “revisit the transaction and will prepare demand letter as necessary.”
“We recommend that Management provide explanation why the immediate return of such amount has not been demanded. Moreover, we recommend that Management demand the return of such amount considering that the event did not push through and/or submit the necessary documents to substantiate such claim for evaluation of the Commission,” COA said in its report.
Failure to do so could lead to the issuance of a notice of disallowance, it added.
Section 168 of the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual requires the submission of certificate of availability of funds, approval of claim by head of office or his/her representative, documents to establish the validity of claims, conformity of expenditure with existing laws and regulations, and proper accounting treatment for any fund disbursements.
The municipal government released 10 checks containing cash aid of P200, 000 each or totaling to P2 million as subsidy and financial assistance to participating schools.
“Based on the review of supporting documents, the disbursement voucher was only supported by an acknowledgement receipt in the name of the payee, without fully substantiating the specific expense comprising such amount,” portions of the COA report reads.
Also, the annual festival that is scheduled on Easter Sunday was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic that placed Cebu under community quarantine then.
“However, as per inquiry with the Municipal Accountant, such amount has not been returned and there is no demand made to return such amount despite the fact that it has been almost one year since such amount has been disbursed.”
“Also, based on the Report of Unliquidated Advances, there were cash advances for seminars which did not push through but the amount (for seminar fees) were not returned,” the COA report said.
Since the festival was cancelled, local officials, auditors said, should have demanded the immediate return of the disbursements that were earlier made.
“The disbursement without complete supporting documentation exposes the Municipality’s funds to misuse and constitutes illegal disbursement,” COA said.
It said that the submission of supporting documents “are necessary for proper verification and to establish that the transaction actually transpired and were valid, legal and proper.”
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