CAN local government units (LGUs) use public fund to finance fiesta-related activities?
No, says the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2011 audit report for the municipality of Binmaley.
The audit report, a copy of which was obtained by The PUNCH, indicates it is not legal to use LGU funds for fiesta-related activities.
One of the significant findings of the COA upon its audit of the books of Binmaley is that fiesta-related expenses totaling P1,154,705.50 were charged against the funds of the LGU but fiesta-related revenues were not logged in, which is in violation of existing rules, laws and regulations.
Reports from The PUNCH sources in many towns indicate that the practice is widespread.
COA told the Binmaley LGU, “We recommend that management refrains from using LGU funds for the celebration of town’s fiesta to avoid disallowance in audit.”
At the same time the COA ordered, “The Binmaley Town Fiesta Executive Committee must return the LGU funds used for the celebration of town’s fiesta totaling P1,154,705.50 since these were not valid expenditures of the government.”
The case of Binmaley sets a precedent and an eye-opener to the other LGUs that are drawing funds from their coffers to finance activities every time they celebrate their fiestas.
GASOLINE AND OIL
Another significant finding of COA in Binmaley was the local government’s expenses for fuel that amounted to P2,468,907.08 for gasoline, oil and lubricant for Calendar Year 2011, which included expenses for gasoline supplied to vehicles not owned by the LGU.
The COA ordered the refund of money spent on private vehicles and admonished the LGU to adhere to the laws, regulations in disbursing government funds for fuel consumption.
Some other significant findings on the books of Binmaley include:
1. Checks totaling P858,792.90 as of December 31, 2011 were issued without the corresponding disbursement vouchers or any supporting documents. In addition, several disbursements were paid in advance contrary to existing rules and regulations;
2. Cash advances of some municipal officials and employees totaling P2,273,362.29 remained unliquidated as of December 31, 2011, contrary to the provisions of COA Circular No. 97-002.