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State auditor marks salaries, bonuses in excess of Romblon budget

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by Allan Yves Briones

The provincial government of Romblon was cited again in post-audit for the payment of salaries, bonuses in excess by P29.44 million of the limits prescribed under law.

This, according to the Commission on Audit (COA), deprived the province’s constituents of the benefits from other programs, projects and activities (PPA) that could have been funded out of the excess payments.

For a 3rd class province like Romblon, Section 325(a) of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 mandates that appropriations for “personal services” (PS) should not exceed 45 percent of the provincial government’s income for the year.

In 2018, local officials appropriated P353.62 million for PS, including the 2nd and 3rd tranches of compensation adjustment, even P3.39 million in Productivity Enhancement Incentives or bonuses.

Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Province of Romblon

The amount was reportedly in excess of P29.44 million against, not only the local government code, but also Local Budget Circular No. 98:

“[I]n case of Excess Over the PS Limitation, (a local government unit) should prioritize all new and/or additional PS costs for the budget year and/reduce the same to eliminate the excess,” as quoted in the report.

On March 2, 2018, the Department of Budget Management, upon review of the province’s annual budget, rendered inoperative parts of Appropriation Ordinance No. 07, s. 2017 which increased PS costs.

Upon further review, state auditors found that the provincial government incurred an actual cost of P10.21 million, “significantly decreased” by 62.56 percent from 2017.

Despite this, COA called upon the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Provincial Budget Officer to strictly observe the limitations prescribed in the local government code, and intensify revenue-generating efforts to raise the PS base. #