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Masbate province loses P11.9M in cash advances

By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY --- The provincial government of Masbate will lose P11,920,000 due to unsettled cash advances by its officials and personnel, the 2022 annual audit report published recently by the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed.

The amount is part of the ₱78,825,078.41 total cash advances which remained un-liquidated as of December 31, 2022.

Based on the report, P30,134,215.22 of the total amount represent cash advances to special disbursing officers (SDOs) while P48,690,863.19 are cash advances to officials and employees.

From the said amount, P11,920,000.00 is set to be written off which would effectively free those responsible from any liability.

The provincial accountant, Glenda Talisic, had informed the COA that her office is now in the process of working out the requirements to write off the cash advances which had remained unsettled for years.

Writing off is the process of removing an asset or uncollectible account from the books and consider it a loss or an expense.

During the exit conference, Talisic had assured the audit team that they are regularly sending demand letters to all accountable officials and employees who had incurred cash advances.

The audit agency noted that despite failure to liquidate and without legally authorized specific purpose, the provincial government continued granting cash advances which exposed government funds to potential lose contrary to the provisions of COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1997 and Section 89 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445 which both deal on government finances and auditing.

At one point, a cash advance for a staggering amount of P1,370,000,000.00was recorded but the said amount was “subsequently refunded as of December 31, 2022 after the Audit Team issued Notices of Suspension which is tantamount to temporary borrowings”, the COA reported.

The agency chided the local chief executive of Masbate for the “Management’s disregard of laws, rules and regulations on cash advances” as it reminded that “it shall be the responsibility of the Local Chief Executive to institute and maintain sound and effective internal control measures to discourage and prevent irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant and unconscionable expenditures as well as promote prudence in the use of government resources”.

The COA reminded the accountable officers (AOs)that “the failure (of an AO) to render an account in full within the periods prescribed and after formal demand shall constitute the administrative offense of Gross Neglect of Duty punishable by dismissal from the service for the first offense”.

To stem the practice and to recover the government funds, the COA directed the provincial government order all AOs to immediately submit their liquidation papers for the overdue CAs, otherwise, require the withholding of their salaries in accordance with Section 37 of PD No. 1445; require the officials and employees who will retire, resign or transfer to liquidate their outstanding CAs before their clearances are approved by the governor;

The agency also ordered to stop the practice of granting additional CAs to those who have not completely submitted the supporting documents and those who have un-liquidated CAs; stop the practice of granting CAs without legally authorized specific purpose and for payments on account of infrastructure projects or other undertaking on a project basis and to strictly comply with the provisions of the aforementioned law, rules and regulations on the granting, utilization, and liquidation of CAs.


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