Sto. Tomas hit for ‘excessive’ food, festival expenses
by Allan Yves Briones
The municipal government of Sto. Tomas, Batangas received a scolding allegedly spending too much on meals, snacks and a local festival, a number of which were unsupported by complete documentation.
According to the Commission on Audit (COA), these expenditures, totaling to over P11.56 million, could be considered as “excessive and unnecessary” under audit guidelines, and even provisions of law.
Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 1445, for example, mandates that government resources are to expended “with a view of ensuring efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations of government.”
In 2018, the municipal government spent P7.76 million for meals and snacks. In the post-audit, state auditors noted several deficiencies including undated attendance sheets, no invitation letters or notices of meeting, and the lack of photos showing the participants.
Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Municipality of Sto. Tomas
“The provision of meals to almost every event of Municipality casted doubt as to the agency’s commitment for efficient and economic discharge of its functions,” COA said, adding that audit documents even showed that some disbursements were not supported by invoices.
Sto. Tomas also posted expenses totaling P3.41 million for the celebration of its Mahaguyog where, aside from cash prizes, food in excess of 40 percent was provided for.
“Accordingly, representation allowances were provided monthly to the Municipal officials and department heads to be used/spent for entertaining visitors/guests,” COA added.
Under COA Circular 2012-003, excessive and unnecessary expenditures are defined as those which are unreasonably high, and those which are not essential to the operations of government.
The state auditing agency advised the municipal government to exercise prudence in the utilization of its resources, and ordered the submission of justification on the incurrence of “excessive” expenditures.
According to Sto. Tomas officials, as stated in the report, the financial assistance granted was not enough to cover the expenses incurred during the event, and without it, no contestants will participate in the competition. #
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