Hearing on PCSO contributions to budget deferred due to conflicting data
MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Appropriations deferred its hearing on the contributions of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to the proposed 2024 budget after lawmakers noted conflicting data in the agency’s presentation.
Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo pointed out inconsistencies between the PCSO data and the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF).
Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop then moved that the hearing be deferred.
The BESF is contained in the proposed 2024 national budget — the National Expenditures Program (NEP).
After PCSO — a revenue generator for the government — made its presentation, Quimbo noticed that the agency posted a net income of P4.2 billion net for the first half of 2023. But it predicted a negative P2.9 billion net in the NEP — a sharp P7.1 billion difference.
In comparison, the PCSO assistant general manager, Ma. Cristina Gregorio, who is also the accounting head, said the office was able to generate a P3.6 billion income for 2021 and a P4.2 billion net income for 2022.
“So it’s here, that’s your submission. So please explain why it is stated on page 480, that you have estimated operating revenues of P52 billion, non-operating revenues of P1.064 billion — a total of P53 billion. And you have other estimated expenses, et cetera,. But the bottom line is you expect a net loss of P2.93 billion for 2023. So I cannot tally everything that you are presenting,” Quimbo said in Filipino.
“You have been saying that PCSO has been performing well. But I cannot reconcile that with a minus P2.93 billion that you expect for the whole year of 2023.”
Gregorio was asked to explain how the agency arrived at such a computation, but Quimbo was not satisfied with her answers.
Eventually, Gregorio noted that they did not provide the Department of Budget and Management, which prepared the NEP, a P2.9 billion negative net income for 2023.
“Ma’am, based on the records I have — yes, ma’am — we didn’t forecast [a negative] P2.9 billion [net],” Gregorio said.
“We would like to ask if they are ready to answer that question of the chair. Otherwise, we can suspend,” Libanan interjected.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez tried to urge the committee to move forward with the deliberations of PCSO’s contributions, saying that such an issue should not matter given the good performance of PCSO.
Quimbo and Libanan noted, however, that a wrong input from the PCSO might very well affect the entire proposed budget.
“We have already a statement from the PCSO that their net income for 2023 is P4.2 billion, and so that’s confirmed by you, by whatever submission here. We can proceed. It’s very clear that the presentation may have some discrepancy… But they are now here to tell [us] that they will have P4.2 billion. Meaning, that this will be the net income, and you can proceed with the projects,” Rodriguez said.
“What is not reconciled with the figures are those which are entered into the NEP, and the NEP is the bill, that is our basis, more than your presentation — so we have got to see the real figures in this,” Libanan replied.
“Honorable Rodriguez, that is not what is being debated at this point. We’re asking the lady the basis for their submission of the BESF figure, and that is not — at this point, they had not responded,” Quimbo added.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said that PCSO general manager Melquiades Robles is his friend, but he could not say that the accounting of PCSO’s finances was done properly.
“You arrived at P4.2 billion because you were spending your charity fund for the first half of the year, right? But to go to a negative is a quantum leap. So I guess, Madam Chair, you’re right,” Salceda said.
“Mel is my friend. He’s from Bicol. And, of course, the father of this girl is also a friend. But I think at this point we cannot make any sense out of the numbers that are being presented to us. It is completely funky accounting, sad to say,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the committee heard the financial plans of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), before moving to PCSO. But as hearings for PCSO were deferred, the office would need to submit a corrected financial statement and financial plan first before the panel resumes discussions.