By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Audit (COA) wants the Iloilo City government to review its financial aid to all 180 barangays in the metropolis.

This after the COA observed that the P18.345-million financial assistance granted to barangay officials from 2006-2008 have no legal basis.

Based on the COA annual audit report on Iloilo City’s finances, each of the 180 barangay captains received P4,000 and P3,000 each for other barangay officials from City Hall.

The audit body also noted that the barangays receiving the assistance from City Hall exceeded the personal services limitation provided by Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code and Department of Budget and Management circulars.

RA 7160 stipulates that allocations for personal services (salaries and benefits of public officials) must not exceed 45% of the total annual income of first to third class local government units (LGUs).

LGUs classified as fourth or lower class have a PS ceiling of 55% of the total annual income from regular sources.

Thus COA issued an audit observation memorandum requiring the City Government to explain the legal basis of the grant to barangay officials.

The City Legal and Treasurer Offices cited provisions of RA 7160 allowing provincial, city and municipal governments to provide at least P1,000 financial aid to barangays.

The City Hall also said that only the general fund is subject to PS limitations and the barangays did not allocate the assistance in their respective budgets.

The assistance was also given directly to barangays, not barangay officials, City Hall officials said.

But the COA said the City Government should observe the PS limitations set by the law. The audit body also advised that the barangays should enter the assistance in their books as income and allocate the money through appropriation ordinances.

The COA also noted that newly-elected officials enjoyed the assistance in December 2007 a month after they assumed office.