Friday, September 6, 2013
MANILA-The Commission on Audit (COA) has P2.2 billion in the 2014 national budget that it can tap in hiring more auditors who can serve as “tripwires against corruption,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.
With that amount, Recto said COA can recruit 6,485 more personnel, some of whom could be “frontline auditors,” to beef up its present workforce of 8,734.
Recto explained that the while the COA official plantilla has 15,219 authorized positions, only 8,734 are currently filled, “or a fill up rate of about 60 percent.”
A special provision in the proposed budget of the agency for 2014 states to the effect that portions of the P2.2 billion earmarked for the salaries of the 6,485 unfilled positions will only be released by the Department of Budget Management once the COA undertakes hiring.
“In short, it is some sort of a hiring fund the COA can withdraw from to pay for the salaries of new employees it has hired,” Recto said.
The COA has a proposed budget of P8.4 billion for 2014.
In its budget submission to the Senate, COA reported that “19,081 agencies are subject to its financial, compliance and other audits,” prompting Recto to comment that “even if COA achieves full staff complement, that would still be below the 1:1 personnel to office ratio.”
In addition, COA stores 39 million spending vouchers, “which its auditors are supposed to examine,” he said.
In Thursday’s Senate hearing on the pork barrel mess, Recto urged the recruitment of more government auditors “so that these watchdogs embedded in public offices won’t have a hard time in auditing expenditures.”
Recto said “if the Ombudsman’s staff is being strengthened, if ‘integrity bodies’ in revenue agencies are being given additional funds, if internal affairs units in the police and the military are being beefed up, then all the more that COA, the public’s whistleblower, must have more personnel.”
He said if the commission is having a hard time getting accountants due to low pay, “then I think as a fiscally-independent body it can grant additional pay or it can ask the DBM to scrap many lower positions and consolidate them into fewer positions with higher pay.”
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