Monday, November 22, 2010

COA's 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Report unearths more Money Management problems at the University of the Philippines

The Commission on Audit's (COA) 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Reports is bringing to light more disclosures about how taxpayer's money remains unaccounted for at the University of the Philippines (U.P.), at a time when U.P. faces unprecedented budget cuts upon the recommendation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). 

DBM Secretary Florencio Abad has said that part of the basis for its determination of the 2011 national budget is partly based on COA reports about an agency or institution. By that standard, U.P.looks like it has problems in fiscal management - and if this is left unaddressed - weakens its institutional credibility as it demands for a higher budget from Congress in 2011. Legislators will want to know that U.P. has sufficient controls to ensure that the money is not "lost" and unaccounted for.

For example, COA said the UP Diliman manner of recording income realized but not yet collected from its auxiliary and income generating activities did not conform with the usual accrual method of accounting, which is a norm. Instead, what U.P. does is to recognize income by recording it as Other Deferred Credits account instead of an appropriate Income account thus, overstating and understating respectively these aforementioned accounts by at least P17.59 million as of December 31, 2009.

Auditors say this can lead to possible corruption known as “kiting”, because by understating actual income for a given year, then the understated income can be spent without the auditors looking for this money in bank balances or through receipts and vouchers, etcetera.

COA is recommending that the U.P. Diliman Administration require the Accounting Office to prepare a Journal Entry Voucher to adjust the identified erroneous credit made to Other Deferred Credits account, and to henceforth comply strictly with the prescribed government accounting system.

The 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Report (CAAR) of COA also pointed out that the balances of Cash in Bank Local Currency-Current Accounts and Savings Accounts (LCCA & LCSA) of P152.48 million of U.P. Manila and Visayas and Foreign Currency Account of $187,674.61 of U.P. Manila were misstated due to unreconciled differences between the books and bank balances amounting to P131.90 million and $104,809.07 respectively, due to the failure of the Accounting Division to prepare and update the bank reconciliation statements (BRS).

In other words, COA is probably being overly polite by referring to the window dressing by the U.P. Administration of its books of accounts as it claims that UP Manila-PGH it was in actual possession of taxpayer funds worth P 142,689,776.86 when it reality the U.P.'s own bank balances for UP Manila-PGH only showed the existence of funds worth P 74,480,379.96 or a staggering variance of P131,790,603.10. Where did this money go? Did university officials dip their hands in the cookie jar one too many times? Perhaps or even perhaps not. However, such endless speculation may be quieted once and for all, if only U.P. officials would simply follow Section 74 of P.D. No. 1445, otherwise known as the State Audit Code of the Philippines, COA said.

P.D. No. 1445 provides that: “At the close of each month, depositories shall report to the agency head, in such form as he may direct, the condition of the agency account standing on their books. The head of the agency shall see to it that reconciliation is made between the balance shown in the report and the balance found in the books of the agency.”

“The reconciliation of cash in bank account balances with bank records provides a periodic determination of the validity of cash balances appearing in the books of the agency concerned. Bank reconciliation statements prepared on a regular and timely basis is an essential control over these cash accounts. The agency accountant shall draw journal vouchers to record all valid reconciling items that require adjustment and correction in the General Ledger

COA's 2009 CAAR also found that U.P. Visayas said that it had at least P 9,787,307.82 in its books, when it reality it had P 9,897,874.82, or a positive variance of P 110,567.00 which, while it might seem like a happy problem, was still problematic from a COA perspective, because it showed that accountants were not practicing sufficient levels of rigor that was in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP).

In terms of foreign currency holdings, UP Manila-PGH said that it had at least $187,674.61 in its books, but actual bank statements only proved that it was in possession of $292,483.68 or a positive variance of $104,809.07 which again makes it difficult for COA auditors to determine the path of the money trail in terms of where this money comes from and where it is going.

With this article, the Diliman Diary continues to update, incrementally, a broader article which interprets and reports on COA's 2009 report on the whole U.P. System. Interested readers and policy makers may access the U.P. System article here: The Diliman Diary has also embedded the U.P. System article within an even broader article that interprets and reports on COA's 2009 CAARs on Metro Manila based State Universities and Colleges. This article may be accessed at this link:

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