Mandatory pre-audit of government disbursements and uses of funds pushed

MANILA — A veteran lawmaker is pushing for the passage in the 17th Congress of a measure requiring all government expenditures to go through mandatory pre-audit examinations prior to the disbursement of public funds.

Rep. Raul V. Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City) said the bill requires mandatory thorough and complete pre-audit examination of all expenditures and uses of public funds pertaining to infrastructure projects, procurement of goods and consulting services, including lease of goods and real property, of any branch, office agency or instrumentality of the government, including state universities and colleges, government-owned and controlled corporations, government financial institutions and local government units.

“This means that there must be a pre-audit of any government spending or transaction prior to the disbursement of public money and the absence of such pre-audit will render the transaction null and void,” Del Mar said.

Del Mar said in order to show the determination of government, a violation of this mandatory pre-audit will render the officials or employees found responsible, liable in their personal capacities for any consequent damage to the government of the other private contracting party, without prejudice to the administrative sanctions that may be warranted under the circumstances.

According to Del Mar, the need to protect the disbursement and expenditure of public funds is a duty conferred by the Constitution upon the Commission on Audit (COA).

Del Mar said it is a must that all government expenditures go through mandatory pre-audit examinations in the light of compelling realities such as that the government needs all the funds it can possibly save and have because of the more than alarming budgetary deficit.

Second, the government is said to be the “biggest contractor and the heaviest procurer of goods and services,” and third, as one independent study has stated, in the procurement of government goods and services alone, one-fifth (1/5) of the government’s budget is lost through graft, Del Mar said.

Under the measure, the COA shall determine the scope of the pre-audit and shall adopt such criteria and procedures, techniques and methods as may be required by such auditorial examination.

The mandatory pre-audit requirement shall not cover constitutional bodies, commissions and offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under the Constitution; autonomous state colleges and universities; other government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidies; and non-government entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government, which are required by law or the granting institution to submit to post-audit as a condition of subsidy or equity.

The bill provides that the absence of pre-audit shall render the government contract or transaction null and avoid. A Certificate of Pre-audit signed by the accounting official of the agency or office concerned shall be required prior to any disbursement or expenditure of funds.

It also mandates the government office or entity under pre-audit examination to ensure that all relevant and necessary information are disclosed and the pertinent papers and documents are submitted for purposes of the said examination in all stages of the pre-audit being conducted by the Commission or its duly authorized representative.

Failure to comply with this provision shall be a ground for disciplinary action of the public official or employee concerned.

The Commission on Audit is directed to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.

Del Mar said the argument that this pre-audit scheme will result in further delays, establishing another unnecessary level of review, which may unduly prejudice implementation of urgent government projects and transactions, must now yield to the higher interest to protect and conserve government resources and minimize losses from illegal expenditures in these hard times.

“Suffice it to say that the pre-audit system is not meant to be unreasonable. Quality pre-audit is what is important and the Commission on Audit may address such issues and other related concerns in the implementing rules,” Del Mar said. PNA/northboundasia.com