COA cautions SK execs on fund disbursement
By Bobby Q. Labalan LEGAZPI CITY --- Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials should not rush into taking charge of their funding until an implementing rules and regulations (IRR) are formulated and issued by concerned government agencies. This was the advice given by Genaro Rejuso, State Auditor IV of the Commission on Audit Regional Office, in response to a query from SK officials attending a seminar on fiscal management organized by government accountants here. Rejuso said as of now there is no clear guidelines yet as to how the SK funds would be disbursed thus it’s difficult to allow youth officials to directly handle their finances. For one, SK chairs are not bonded yet so are their treasurers which is a requirement of law for those who handle government funds, he stressed. Rejuso also cautioned the youth officials against being “too excited” in managing their funds and advised them instead to fully understand the provisions of law that governs their organization as well as other pertinent statutes pertaining to fund utilization. The official warned the youth officials that the expanded power granted to them especially in the handling of funds comes with grave responsibility which could result in legal complications. “Remember you will be handling government funds and therefore you are covered by all the laws that governs fund disbursements and utilization,” he stressed. This is not a joking matter, Rejuso added. Under the Reformed SK Law, ten per cent of the total budget of local government units is allocated for programs, projects and activities of the Sangguniang Kabataan. It must be utilized solely for PPAs that would promote the interest and strengthen the youth sector. The state auditor said that since the assumption of newly elected SK officials their office had been flooded with queries on how to disburse the SK funds. Due to lack of clear cut guidelines, SK fund disbursement had hit an impasse. He said that to resolve the issue, the COA central office had allowed the disbursement of the fund through the “old method”, meaning it would still be the barangay council that would process the disbursement vouchers for the SK. Rejuso said that pending the issuance of the IRR, it would be the Punong Barangay and the Barangay Treasurer who would sign the disbursement vouchers for the SK. However, the SK chairman must sign the purchase order. He said SK officials may request their respective punong barangays and treasurers to handle their fund disbursement while awaiting for the IRR so as not to delay the implementation of their PPAs. The rules and guidelines on the part of the COA might be issued anytime this August, he added. He also advised the SK officials not to “disturb” the existing budget allocations as approved by the barangay council so as not to complicate the process any further. Barangay chairs who were also in attendance at the seminar held July 30 to August 1 at a local hotel here said they are amenable to the “old method” as long as it is allowed by the law. The seminar was attended by barangay chairs, treasurers, SK chairs and barangay kagawads who chair their respective appropriations committee.