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COA flags Cardema-led NYC for P1.67-M 'excessive' leave credits, travel expenses

The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the National Youth Commission under resigned chairman Ronald Cardema (NYC) for its excessive use of leave credits and reimbursement of travel expenses totaling P1.669 million in 2018.

In its annual audit report on the NYC, the COA flagged P1.539 million worth of irregularities in the balances and monetization of leave credits granted to 83 NYC personnel.

Cardema's office received the 2018 audit on April 25.

Incorrect leave credits

The COA said 67 employees had incorrect leave credit balances worth P680,675.91 last year after their compensatory time-offs (CTOs) were used to offset official travels undertaken on weekends or on holidays.

"The balance of leave credits appearing in the leave cards were incorrect due to the number of days of absence that were being compensated by the CTOs/[special days off] were not deducted from the leave credits of the said officials and employees," the COA said.

A joint circular from the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget and Management in 2004 allowed the grant of CTOs to government employees in lieu of overtime pay.

The COA, however, said official travels are not covered by CTOs. It said some NYC personnel even used the credits in their travel back to their respective official station or residence and were paid with the corresponding travel allowance.

The audit agency directed the NYC to deduct the availed CTOs to the leave credits or to the salaries of the 67 employees, require the human resources office to cancel their CTO applications and discontinue granting them if it falls on a weekend or holiday.

The NYC agreed to implement the recommendations of the COA during the exit conference.

Monetization of leave credits

A total of 16 NYC personnel were able to monetize their leave credits worth P858,926.63 as of August 1, 2018 without complying to the requirements stated in COA Circular No. 2012-01.

The circular allows government employees to monetize 50 percent of their accumulated leave credits for health reasons, calamity funds, educational needs, payment of loans entered into for the family's benefit, and for other other emergencies.

But according to the COA, these NYC officials used the money to cover personal expenses such as house bills, house renovation, and for medication of a relative.

State auditors thus told the NYC to explain why the leave credits were monetized without justifiable reasons as stated in COA rules.

In a letter dated November 20, 2018, the NYC management said the leave credits were processed since the reasons were valid under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular 41 series of 1998.

Travel expenses

Meanwhile, the COA said the NYC had excessive travel expenses worth P129,718.66 as of September 30, 2018.

Section 4 of Executive Order No. 298 states that travel expenses of government personnel, regardless of rank, shall only be P800 per day. The EO also allows reimbursement claims for absolutely necessary expenses.

The COA said the NYC was non-compliant with the EO, allowing a daily limit of P2,400 for staff and regular employees and P5,200 for officials.

"Other claims not in accordance with EO No. 298 were deemed 'excessive' expenditures. The most economical meals and accommodation should be availed under the existing rules," the audit read.

The commission further said P37,581.84 of the total expenses was spent to cover meals "immoderate for one person's consumption." It said some NYC officials paid for meals priced between P720 to P1,500.

The COA urged the NYC, which agreed to adhere to the recommendations, to be more prudent in granting reimbursements and require concerned personnel to refund their excess claims. —NB, GMA News