COA flags NYC for overpriced Filipiniana costumes, unnecessary expenses in exchange program

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Erratum: The first published version of this article stated that government auditors flagged the National Youth Commission (NYC) for the purchase of Filipiniana costumes for the country’s delegates to the 46th Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP). The NYC only spent for its employee participants, not the whole delegation. We have corrected this error in the article below. We sincerely apologize for this mistake.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) - Government auditors called out the National Youth Commission (NYC) for overspending on Filipiniana costumes of its employee participants, among other issues, for a cultural exchange program in 2019.

A Commission on Audit (COA) report flagged the NYC after it spent ₱171,500 or ₱3,430 each for the Filipiniana costumes of its secretariat that were worn during the introduction of the country’s delegates in the 46th Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP).

Citing the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019, the COA said “an amount not exceeding ₱1,500 in a year may be used for the purchase of uniform or costume and other related expenses in the conduct of cultural and athletic activities per employee participant.”

The NYC argued that the provision under GAA of 2019 only applies to local events. However, the COA said it applies to both local and international activities.

“The Audit team concurred that SSEAYP is an international activity, however, the said event where the costume was used is simply for the introduction of the 27 participating youth and one national leader, and no international delegates or counterpart were attendees/present, hence, expensive costume can be dispensed with,” said the audit report.

Unnecessary expenses

The COA also slammed the NYC for spending ₱974,680 on food, venue, and accommodation during the 10-day pre-departure training. Also included in the expenses were members of the secretariat and some agency officials who reside in Metro Manila and were not involved in the activity.

“Should there be a necessity for the presence of the Secretariat to attend or supervise the need of the delegates, one or two members were allowed to stay since there were facilitators/coordinators who managed the training activities,” said the report.

The COA recommended that the NYC should use government facilities for future training and identify members of the secretariat who need to stay overnight in the venue.

Moreover, the state auditors said that the NYC spent ₱337,500 for extra packs of meals for its 17 employees even on Saturdays and Sundays when there were no listed activities.

The COA noted that Saturdays and Sundays were rest days according to the calendar of SSEAYP and participants stayed in their own homes on those days.

“The Accomplishment report showed that sometimes participants have activities outside, thus a packed lunch maybe impractical," the COA said. "Likewise, Sunday is a rest day, yet they have their packed lunches.”

The annual audit report on the NYC also showed that it spent ₱34,980,312.87 on all its training, workshops, and conferences last year.

The COA said that the amount spent could have been reduced by ₱3,691,950 if the activities were held on government facilities and not on expensive hotels.

Multi-Platform News Writer Vince Ferreras contributed to this report