COA cites town officials for expensive meetings
The Commission on Audit has called out the local government of Bontoc, Mountain Province for holding out-of-town meetings.
For 2022, the local government of Bontoc spent P788,500 for its out-of-town meetings.
The COA said holding of meetings outside its territorial jurisdiction is contrary to Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum of Circular 2011-59 and Commission on Audit Circular 2012-003. Both memorandums discourage “unnecessary” and “extravagant” expenditure of public funds.
The report showed out-of-the town trips were conducted on June, July, and November 2022 in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; Dipaculao, Aurora; and Bauang, La Union where 25, 41, and 50 participants composed of department heads, elected officials, and municipal employees attended.
For each trip, the LGU spent an average of over P100,000 for accommodation and per diem, and between P13,000 and P15,000 for fuel.
The trips were for the preparation of the LGU’s annual investment plan, setting of executive-legislative agenda, budget pre-paration for 2024, capacity building, and formulation of the gender and development plan.
The LGU reasoned the out-of-town trips were necessary in order to optimize the attendance of the participants and for more focused discussions.
The COA said conducting these meetings in hotels and resorts outside of Bontoc is unreasonable and impractical considering they have their own halls where they can hold these meetings.
“Had these meetings been conducted in office premises, the municipal go-vernment could have avoided accommodation, per diem, and fuel expenses,” the COA said, adding these funds could have been used for other priority pro-jects, programs, or activities that will benefit the public.
The COA directed the LGU to observe austerity measures by holding meetings within the municipality to avoid incurring extravagant expenditures which are disallowable in audit as provided in COA Circular 2012-003. – Rimaliza A. Opiña