COA requires 'more proof' for Land Bank's money claim against DSWD

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has required more proof to support the validity of the money claim filed by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) against the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over unpaid service fees in relation to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

In a decision released on Friday, January 29, COA has remanded to the supervising auditors of both parties in the absence of sufficient basis to grant the money claim amounting to P277.933 million ($5.82 million)*.

In May 2015, LBP filed the claim against the welfare department over failure to pay service fees of accredited CCT conduits from 2009 to 2013.

The fees were based on LBP’s memorandum of agreement with Cash Card, Globe Telecom’s G-Cash Remit, countryside financial institutions/non-government organizations/cooperatives, and other over-the-counter (OTC) transactions. Each outlet has respective fees per transaction.

The claim comes after the DSWD directed LBP to COA as agencies cannot pay obligations from previous years using money from the current year’s budget without clearance from the audit agency.

However, the welfare department’s supervising auditor pointed out discrepancies on LBP’s claim.

The conduits’ statement of accounts amounted to P333,871,219.09 ($7 million) while disbursement vouchers showed a lower amount of P277,933,167.09 ($5.8 million) without providing explanation or supporting documents.

According to the agency’s Unified Financial Management Unit (UFMU), the difference may represent “service fees of unliquidated payments and some minor billing errors like double billing.”

No documents, no validation

COA required that the DSWD to present a supporting documents “to fully substantiate the noted discrepancy.”

State auditors also noted the varying service fees on the MOA and the implementing rules and regulations. DSWD, for their part, said that MOAs and IRRs have been revised “several times.”

This claim, however, cannot be validated as no supporting documents were submitted by the party. Aside from this, individual contracts or agreements between the LBP and CCT conduits were “withheld from state auditors.”

“Said contracts or agreements and the revised MOA and IRRR are the very bases for the right of the CCT conduits to claim the service fees, which this Commission could not validate as these documents are not in the records,” it added. –