Revision of 41-year-old Philippine gov’t audit rules pushed
The country’s 41-year-old auditing rules need a “major overhaul” so the government can deliver better services adapted to present needs, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
In a statement, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy described the auditing rules and procedures as outdated and “badly need updating and upgrading.”
“The State Audit Code we still have now is a presidential decree from way back 1978. In terms of technologies alone, much has changed since then, and so have many financial processes,” said Uy, a member of the House committee on revision of laws.
Stringent Commission on Audit (COA) rules had earlier earned the ire of President Duterte, prompting him to suggest to local officials to “push auditors off the staircase” and to “torture and kidnap” state auditors. His spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, later said the rant was a message directed at both Congress and the COA.
Audit reform summit
Uy called for a “government audit reform summit” to be convened by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council, national government agencies and the COA, to draft a bill for a New State Audit Code of the Philippines.
She cited a number of flaws in the current auditing rules.
The government, she said, needed to review the practice of having COA resident auditors hold physical offices within the compound of the agencies they are assigned to audit.
“Either they get corrupted or bullied by agency heads and regular employees. We must protect our honest state auditors,” she said.
Uy said the law should also be upgraded to recognize the role of technology in honest governance. She noted that the smartphone was not existent in 1978 when the Audit Code was enacted, or in 1987 when it was revised.
Also, local governments would usually need to purchase four-wheel-drive or off-road vehicles, trucks or sport utility vehicles to reach remote, upland areas, she said. Since these are more expensive than regular vehicles, they are commonly questioned and disallowed by the COA, she added.
Uy recalled that then President Corazon Aquino, wielding revolutionary lawmaking powers, made the last major revision in the State Audit Code when she issued the Administrative Code of 1987. —MELVIN GASCON
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