MANILA - The National Youth Commission (NYC) on Tuesday denied it misused public funds after it was reported that the Commission on Audit (COA) had asked the agency to refund more than P800,000 worth of monetized leave credits and travel expenses.
In a statement, NYC said the reports highlighting the agency's alleged misuse of public funds are "inaccurate, incorrect and misleading."
"The Commission received a copy of the Annual Audit Report last 26 April 2019. The Commission had already submitted to the auditor an Agency Action Plan and Status of Implementation to our COA Auditor last 30 April 2019 which enumerated the corrective actions with their corresponding responsible persons and implementation timeline," NYC said.
In its 2018 report, auditors said the leave credit balances of 67 employees were “incorrect” because of the granting of compensatory time-off (CTO) totaling 371 days or P680,675.91 which was meant to offset official travels on weekends or holidays, contrary to the provisions of a joint circular of the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget and Management dated 2004.
On this issue, the NYC said: "The granting of CTOs/SDOs to offset official travels undertaken on Saturdays/Sundays or on holidays was practiced by virtue of the Collective Negotiation Agreement between NYC and the NYC Employees’ Association that had been approved by the Civil Service Commission – Regional Office (NCR). Given the audit finding, the NYC HRM Unit had discontinued the availment of Special Day Offs (SDO) starting 01 January 2019, and deducted the SDO claims of employees and officials from 01 January to 31 December 2018 from their existing leave credits."
NYC also justified its monetization of accumulated vacation/sick leave credits.
"The Commission explained that one of the valid reasons which is 'in cases of extreme financial needs of the employee or his/her immediate family where the present sources of income are not enough to fulfil basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing' was interpreted liberally by the agency and the favorable endorsement of the agency head was secured," NYC explained.
NYC pointed out that it "did not receive any disallowances in the amounts flagged under this issue indicating that the Audit Team had accepted the Commission’s justification."
On the issue of alleged "excessive travel expenses," the NYC said it submitted a petition to justify these.
It said: "Executive Order No. 298 dated 23 March 2019 provided that an employee may claim an Php800.00 per diem to cover expenses incurred on official travels. The Php800 shall cover accommodation, food, and incidental expenses of an employee per day. However, the same Executive Order provides that an employee may claim for reimbursement of actual travel expenses in excess of the travel expenses authorized (Php800.00) upon certification by the head of agency that such expenses are absolutely necessary in the performance of an assignment and presentation of bills and receipts.
"The claims flagged by COA were supported by the required certification from the head of agency and official receipts. The Commission had submitted a petition to the concerned COA Director," it said.
The NYC added: "It has always been the practice of NYC to religiously follow and abide by the existing accounting, budgeting and auditing rules and procedures. The NYC Management will not allow any irregular and illegal use of the agency’s funds."
The COA earlier said said the youth commission agreed to return the amount to the national government and discontinue the granting of non-commutable leave credits.
The COA report also said that the NYC management agreed to submit an explanation why the leave credits were paid, as well as require the chief accountant to process only transactions with proper documentation.