Municipal officials of Minglanilla town, south Cebu, were chided for their failure to maximize use of government funds for projects by appropriating funds instead for excess cash gifts and spending for their town festival.
In their audit report, the Commission on Audit-Central Visayas (COA-7) said municipal officials and employees allocated P31,000 as extra cash gifts last December and P2.6 million for various activities that form part of their Kabanhawan festival.
However, regional auditors said Minglanilla municipal officials failed to exercise control on the P6.7 million worth of drugs and medicines which they bought for the year.
Similar to other municipalities in Cebu province, the COA-7 also required Minglanilla officials to refund the extra cash gifts totalling P4.96 million which already exceeded the 45 percent Personnel Service (PS) allocation for the municipality.
Municipal officials justified the extra cash gifts, saying this was a result of the inclusion of appropriations other than the basic pay.
But auditors maintained that town officials should ?refrain from granting benefits (that are) not in accordance with laws, rules and regulations.?
They also scored the municipal government for its inadequate inventory of drugs and medicines bought in 2007.
The agency criticized the municipal goverment?s ?weak control? on procurement and disposition of supplies and questioned whether the medicines reached their intended beneficiaries.
COA-7 likewise noted the P2.6 million price tag for the town's Kabanhawan festival held every Easter Sunday.
Expenses included among others the rental of lights, sounds and chairs costing P451,605 and the honorarium of the festival choreographer worth P287,356.
Costs for food and meals reached P242,500 while television and radio plugs cost P149,999.
Town officials explained that the expenses were sourced from their savings and intended to promote Minglanilla's tourism.
Still, auditors said taxpayers? money should be invested only in projects that could directly benefit the people.