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DILG to governors: Use P6.2-B cash aid with dispatch, transparency

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Sunday urged the country's 81 provincial units to use the P6.197 billion "Bayanihan Grant to Provinces" for the COVID-19 crisis with “dispatch, transparency, and accountability.”

“I urge the governors to utilize the BGP in a quick and efficient way and at the same time be transparent and accountable in its use... ,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

He pointed out that the grant “Is a one-time financial assistance to provinces."

Under the DBM’s Local Budget Circular No. 126, dated April 13, the BGP shall be exclusively used for COVID-19 response related purposes and subject to existing procurement, budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

Also, the DBM made clear that the released amount is equivalent to one-half of the one-month fiscal year 2020 Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of the 81 provinces nationwide.

On the other hand, Año emphasized that the use of the BGP should “augment and not duplicate” the funds allocated for national government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Moreover, Año reminds the provincial LGUs that the released amount for BGP shall be used for the duration of this State of Calamity.

"Funds which remain unutilized after the lifting of the State of Calamity shall be reverted to the National Treasury by the recipient cities and municipalities,” he said.

Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson and undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that personal services expenditures such as salaries, wages, overtime pay, and other personnel benefits, including hazard pay and the special risk allowance must not be taken from the BGP.

Also, Malaya said administrative expenses such as office supplies, meetings, communication, water and electricity, petroleum products, and other general services expenditures are also not to be drawn from the BGP.

He added travel expenses, purchase of administrative office furniture, fixtures, equipment or appliances and purchase, maintenance or repair of motor vehicles, including ambulance are also proscribed.

Furthermore, Malaya pointed out that the BGP is for the augmentation of the funding requirements for the operation of provincial, district and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government for COVID-19-related expenses.

He said it should be used specifically for the procurement of personal protective equipment, reagents, COVID-19 test kits, medicines and vitamins, hospital equipment, and disinfectants.

The BGP may also be used for food, transportation and accommodation expenses of health workers and other personnel of the provincial, district, and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government; expenses for the construction/repair/lease/rental of additional space/building to accommodate COVID-19 patients; and expenses for COVID-19 testing training of medical personnel.

Likewise, the BGP covers the expenses for the operation and maintenance of checkpoints related to COVID-19, including the provision of food, medicines, PPEs and disinfecting supplies.

“Sundin po natin ng maigi ang guidelines ng DBM nang sa gayon ay matapos itong krisis ay wala tayong kahaharaping problema tungkol sa paggamit ng pondong inilaan sa COVID-19 pandemic,” Malaya said. —Ma. Angelica Garcia/LBG, GMA News