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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Province pays P7 million to 23 consultants – COA

According to the Commission on Audit’s Annual Audit Report, the Southern Leyte government hired 19 technical and four legal consultants in 2022 with a budget of P7.08 million, reportedly charged against the General Fund, but, the national government auditors claim the hiring had no justifiable basis.
According to the audit team, the consultancy contracts allegedly did not undergo competitive public bidding as required by the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Also, the report claimed that the services rendered by some of the consultants allegedly “did not require a level of expertise that the existing manpower of the provincial government cannot provide.” Moreover, according to the audit report, several of the consultants could not be considered as “experts” in their field as they turned out to be retired former employees of the provincial capitol, in contrast to the “highly technical consultants or primarily confidential or policy determining” under RA 9184.
The consultants’ expected outputs were only vaguely stated like “inspection and monitoring projects; assist the Governor in the preparation, development, implementation programs;” or “reviewing the PS (personal services) computations.”
While the law generally limits consultancy contracts to only six months, COA auditors claim that they found that “several of the consultants had their contracts renewed repeatedly since 2020.”
The auditors also said that the appointment of some of the consultants “did not get the prior nod of the office of the Solicitor General or the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.”
“While the hiring of legal consultants without the required acquiescence and concurrence from this Commission renders the transaction without legal basis,” the COA said.
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Jason Calva in a phone call interview said that the issue has already been resolved and that the LGU has already explained its’ side during an exit conference with the COA.

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