DOLE’s unsettled cash advances P 1.572-B subject to “abuse” – COA

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Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (file photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – The Audit Commission (COA) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) for accumulating 1.572 billion pesos in unliquidated cash advances which the audit agency said , could be subject to “abuse”.

In its 2020 Dole report, the COA said the unliquidated funds were cash advances made to labor attachés and other officers for the implementation of the department’s various COVID-19 programs, such as its COVID-19 adjustment program (Camp), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / displaced workers #Barangay ko, Bahay ko (Tupad #BKBK) and Abot-Kamay ang Pagtulong (Akap).

Camp and Akap involved providing financial assistance to affected workers and displaced workers overseas, while Tupad #BKBK provided emergency jobs for displaced workers.

DOLE said it would address the issue on Monday.

The biggest piece

The DOLE central office had the largest volume of unliquidated funds amounting to 974.513 million pesos.

The COA said advances for operating expenses totaling 888,714 million pesos to the central office have remained unliquidated for 91 days to more than three years, while 519,500 pesos have yet to be cleared despite targets. of this fund have already been filled.

Advances to special disbursing agents for the implementation of Tupad were also not fully liquidated at the end of 2020.

In the DOLE 1 region, the bulk of the unliquidated cash advances in the amount of 35.88 million pesos were granted in December of the same year for the payment of Tupad’s salaries under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2.

In Region 3, a total of 93,099 million pesos has not been liquidated. The COA said the regional office chose to distribute the amount to Tupad beneficiaries under the Bayanihan to heal in one act through direct implementation and cash advances.

Other funds that have not been fully liquidated include travel and special purpose activities.

DOLE also provided additional cash advances to agents with outstanding balances.

For example, special disbursement agents in region 13 have obtained cash advances up to 29 times per month for the payment of salaries of beneficiaries of the Tupad and the government internship program, and for financial assistance COVID- 19.

These were approved without requiring payment of prior advances.

Unclaimed help

COA asked DOLE to require agents with unpaid balances to present liquidation documents and repay any surplus.

State auditors also advised the department to stop giving additional cash advances to those with unliquidated funds.

The COA has previously cited overpayments, denied claims and unclaimed assistance in DOLE’s COVID-19 programs for its beneficiaries.

The COA sought to confirm with DOLE beneficiaries that they had received their assistance. But only about a quarter of the roughly 18,000 beneficiaries responded, with 221 refusing to receive aid estimated at nearly P2 million.

The audit body also noted that 22.432 million pesos of unclaimed assistance plus a service charge amounting to 83,190 pesos were still with money transfer centers operated by as many as 10 regional offices in Dole. .

Other beneficiaries reported receiving less than the aid they were owed. One of them said that the aid given to him was deducted from his salary.

“Fraudulent activities”

An opposition MP on Sunday called on DOLE to investigate loopholes and possible frauds in the management of its COVID-19 funds.

Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is expected to launch an investigation, following the COA’s findings.

The lawmaker said millions of funds could have gone into the pockets of some officials due to “fraudulent activities”.

“Secretary Bello will be facing us in the upcoming 2022 Budget hearings, and we will surely bring this issue to the table,” Gaite said.

He added that the COA’s findings on the deficiencies in the management of pandemic funds between various agencies were “yet another indictment against the many flawed programs of the Duterte administration to mitigate the impact of its equally flawed militarized lockdown. “.

“These COA reports really complete the picture of what the public has called ‘palpak’ (sloppy) [government]. ” he said.

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