The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed each employee of the provincial government to refund what it considers an excessive expense arising from overpayment of cash incentives amounting to P20,000.00 granted to each official and employee of the provincial government.
The cash incentive questioned by COA specifically refers to the Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) paid out in 2014.
â€œWe recommend that management require all officials to refund the over payment of PEI for CY 2014 in excess of P5,000 each and henceforth observe strictly the limitations of the grant of PEI,â€ COA pointed out.
The state auditing agency also enjoined the provincial government to submit legal basis for the PEI grant.
The Provincial Government, in reply to the COA report, gave the assurance that â€œin subsequent grant of cash benefits it shall be in accordance with rules and regulations. Cash benefits to job order employees shall be stopped.â€
In response, COA said that the provincial government â€œis not precluded from granting benefits to its employees as long it conforms with prescribed rules and regulations.â€
COA found that the PEI of Php20,000.00 granted to each employee and official of the provincial government is considered as â€œexcessive expenditures.â€ State auditors likewise noted that a total of 1,379 Capitol employees and officials were all given the amount of Php20,000.00.
â€œOfficials and employees of the provincial government of Bohol were paid PEI of Php20,000 each instead of P5,000 allowed under Executive Order No. 80, resulting to excessive expenditures of P20,110,000.00,â€ COA said in its post-audit dated December 31, 2014.
There had been similar findings of irregular disbursement or overpayment of PEI to workers in the municipal governments of Bohol.
COA cited as its basis of ruling out that such PEI is too much is the Executive Order No. 80 which provides that â€œThe PEI, in the amount of Php5,000.00 shall continually be granted across-the-board in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by DBM.â€
It also cited Budget Circular No. 2014-3 dated December 2, 2014 on the PEI grant that provides â€œLGU employees, including those in the barangay who are compensated through monthly honoraria, may be granted the one-time PEI for FY 2014 at rates determined by the respective sanggunian, depending on the LGU financial capability and subjected to the following conditions: PEI shall be charged against LGU funds subject the personnel services limitation in LGU budgets in accordance with sections 325(a) and 331(b) of Local Government Code or RA 7160, COA said.
COA also found that â€œCash assistance of Php5,000 each was granted to its job order employees of the province which totaled Php6,936,000 without legal basis, hence, considered irregular expenditure as defined in COA Circular 2012-003.â€
COA said that based on its verification of the financial records of the province the cash assistance granted to its job order or casual employees in the amount of Php5,000 apiece was charged against Other Maintenance and Operating Expenses in the total amount of Php6,936,000.
It cited as basis for considering such â€œcash assistanceâ€ to casual employees as irregular the Civil Service Resolution No. 020790 and Executive Order No. 292 that describe the employment of casual workers: Contract workers covers services such as consultancy â€œwhen no employer-employee relationship exists between the individual and the government. The said employees do not enjoy the benefits, such as PERA, ACA and RATA, enjoyed by regular employees of officials.Â (rvo)