Fat bonuses still given at MWSS in 2011
Jan 26, 2013 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
EXCESSIVE bonuses were still rampant at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 2011. State auditors bared this in their findings that executives of the state-controlled company still enjoyed a wealth of dole-outs.
The Commission on Audit detailed in its latest report that as of 2011, the government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) still gave allowances, bonuses and incentives to its executives and staff that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not approve.
For one, the 2011 corporate operating budget of MWSS was not submitted for the approval of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. It was only submitted on May 18, 2012 and is still awaiting confirmation.
Despite this, government accountants discovered that at the MWSS corporate office, the company still "continued to incur various allowances and benefits in the total amount of P6.39 million."
This led to an over-incurrence of P5.88 million since the DBM-approved budget for meal allowance, productivity allowance and honorarium only totaled P504,000.
Officials and employees were also paid with rice allowance (P2.67 million), anniversary bonus (P3.25 million) and longevity pay (P4.87 million) in the amount of P10.8 million.
State auditors said that the remunerations "have no legal basis" since the Office of the President did not approve the grant of these allowances.
"Nevertheless, MWSS continued the payment using board resolutions as basis for the disbursement of funds," the commission report said.
Auditors also questioned the grant of anniversary bonus "since 2011 is not a milestone year for the MWSS."
The MWSS presented nine board resolutions to defend their side but state auditors said that the "board resolutions [were] without the requisite approval from the Office of the President."
The corporate office of the Sewerage authority also continued to dole out representation and transportation allowance (RATA), which was found excessive by P7.54 million.
The Budget department allowed MWSS to grant RATA only for P1.95 million but records showed that the company issued to its manpower representation allowance worth P8.98 million and transportation allowance worth P499,161.60.
"MWSS employees whose positions are below salary grade 24 . . . were also paid RATA. The GAA [General Appropriations Act] allows RATA only to division chiefs and above, or those positions with salary grade 24 and above," the Audit agency said.
Hazard pay amounting to P1.85 million was also paid to officials and employees in 2011, which the commission said "has no legal basis."
"The MWSS Compound in Old Balara, Quezon City is neither a strife-torn, or embattled area nor exposed to harmful elements or situations," the commission said.
Auditors raised that the GOCC violated DBM Budget Circular 2005-4, which outlines the release of hazard duty pay for those "personnel were actually assigned to, and performing their duties and responsibilities in, strife-torn or embattled areas," among others.
The MWSS said that hazard pay was already granted to its officials and employees since 1996 by virtue of a board resolution, which was based on a certification issued by Dr. Carmencita Noriega-Reodica, then Health secretary.
However, the Audit agency was stern in its position that payment of hazard pay should be first approved by the Budget agency.
"The certification issued by the secretary of Health is valid only on the year it was issued," the commission said.
The corporate and regulatory offices of the MWSS also entered into a medical coverage with private firm Medicard Philippines Inc. for P3.06 million.
Auditors found that MWSS secured health insurance from Medicard from March 18, 2011 to March 17, 2012 in the amount of P1.67 million and P1,39 million, respectively.
Auditors asked MWSS to discontinue tapping private firms since it is "a form of additional allowance and compensation" and since Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth is available.
Medical and communications reimbursements were also charged to the water utility.
The commission found out that three unnamed members of the board of trustees reimbursed their medical and executive
check-up expenses worth P141,695.56, which is not covered by Executive Order 24.
Citing the order, auditors said that the medical reimbursement made was "considered insubordination or neglect of duty."
The commission also unearthed payment of mobile phone bills to Smart Telecommunications Inc. for 2011 worth P34,380.46 of text messages and voice calls, which were sent to international numbers.
The calls and messages were made by the MWSS' regulatory office to countries, which they do not have direct official business dealings, auditors noted.
The reimbursement was deemed "personal in nature" and payments for such were contrary to Presidential Decree 1445, the Audit department said.
The MWSS said that they revisit their policy on granting limits on the use of mobile phones by their officials and possibly renegotiate with the service provider for a lower monthly limit.
The commission included in their report that most of their audit observations is a "reiteration of last year's audit observation and notices of disallowances were already issued for these audit findings."
The water utility administration is no stranger to controversy on excessive bonuses and allowances. It can be recalled that in 2010, the MWSS had already faced a Senate inquiry regarding its release of huge amounts of dole-outs.
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