Solons seek higher 2021 budget for COA
MANILA, Philippines — Some members of the House of Representatives have called for an increase in the budget of the Commission on Audit (COA) for 2021.
During the hearing of the House committee on appropriations on Wednesday, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez noted that the government should strengthen the state auditor considering the subsequent release of funds to several agencies in the midst of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
For instance, he said that the 5.17 percent increase from the P12.2 billion proposed by the commission to the P12.9 billion recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for personnel services (PS) is “illusory and will not really answer the needs of COA.”
“I am therefore supporting not only the present budget given by DBM but for an augmentation so that you are able to have the MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) included in that budget, the local travel, and also the provincial satellite offices,” said Rodriguez.
COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo agreed with the observation of the lawmaker on the budget recommended by the DBM.
“Dito sa proposed budget namin, very apt ‘yung observation niyo, medyo illusory because if you look at the proposal and what they granted, P7 million lang naman ang difference but then that’s because they adjusted the personnel services,” he said.
(Your observation is very apt, that the increase was very illusory because if you look at the proposal and what they granted, there was only a difference of P7 million, but that was because they adjusted the amount for PS.)
COA has originally proposed a budget of P13.57 billion for 2021. The DBM has recommended a slightly lower budget of P13.56 billion for the state auditor under the National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress.
However, a closer look at the breakdown of the proposed budget showed only the suggested funding for personnel services was increased, while the budget for the MOOE was reduced from P651 million to P573 million, and the capital outlay was reduced from P683 million to P86 million.
Apart from a higher budget for next year, Rodriguez also noted that COA should be able to receive this year the P173 million funds for projects and programs for the MOOE and capital outlay that was classified by the DBM for later release.
This was also echoed by committee vice-chairman Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado who was leading the hearing.
Meanwhile, Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin also voiced support for a higher post-pandemic budget for the state auditor.
“This is one of the jewels of our country. I do hope that you will have an increased budget post-pandemic,” Garin said, noting that COA is internationally recognized for its advanced systems and processes in the audit.
For her part, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro agreed that additional funds should be allotted for the commission’s MOOE.
“Medyo nakakalungkot po na sana ay nabigyan din ng malaki-laki o sapat na budget ang COA. Lalong lalo na po, ang function ng COA ay para bantayan ang buwis ng ating bayan na napakahalaga,” she said.
(It is saddening. I hope COA can be allotted with a higher or enough budget, especially since its function is to monitor the funds of our country.)
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