Good marks from COA buoy OWWA hopes on fresh P7.5-billion request


THE Commission on Audit (COA) has issued the highest audit rating to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for its use of its P8.9 billion funds last year.

OWWA is now banking on the positive assessment to secure the additional P7.5-billion budget it requested from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to provide aid to more overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who will be arriving later this year.

COA issued an “unqualified opinion” on the consolidated financial statements of OWWA in 2020 as it handled billions of government funds to assist the repatriated OFW.

It noted that OWWA complied with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) with the corresponding Philippine Application Guidance (PAG) in the management of its finances in 2022.

As of Tuesday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported the government was able to repatriate a total of 641,717 since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

The OFWs were repatriated in a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and DOLE, and provided free accommodation, food, transportation, and financial aid by OWWA.

Fresh funding

In a phone interview on Wednesday, OWWA administrator Hans J. Cacdac told BusinessMirror he welcomed the audit report, which he attributed to the efforts of OWWA’s finance team.

He said he hopes the latest COA report will give a “positive signal” to DBM that they are able to efficiently utilize their funds.

The OWWA chief said they are once again in dire need fresh funding from DBM since the quarantine period for repatriated OFWs, particularly in countries where there are cases of the Delta variant of Covid, now lasts for a longer 14 days.

OWWA’s 2021 budget is only sufficient to provide accommodation and aid repatriated OFWs for two to three days of quarantine.

Cacdac said their remaining fund of the P5.2-billion supplemental budget, which was released by DBM earlier this year, will now only last until September 15, 2021.

To address the matter of diminishing funds, he said Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III wrote to DBM in July to request for a P7.5-billion additional budget for OWWA.

If approved, the supplemental budget will allow OWWA to provide assistance to OFWs until the end of the year, Cacdac said.

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