On top of the shame campaign they have to endure in social media —“Epal” politicians now face tighter audit that will hopefully curb self-promotion at the expense of public funds. Invoking its exclusive authority to promulgate accounting and auditing rules, such as to weed out “irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable” state expenditures, the Commission on Audit has mapped out an “anti-Epal” blueprint for the first time. Just in time for the mid-term elections this year and ahead of the 2016 presidential polls.
Based on COA Circular 2013-004 dated Jan. 30, 2013, all government agencies must list all ongoing government projects, programs and activities at the beginning of the year, including key details like project name, implementing unit, office or division, brief description, contractor or supplier (if any), mode of procurement, funding source, cost or approved budget, project duration including start and completion dates and location. But COA said publicity on these should be made “at least possible cost” and it even prescribed a maximum size for the materials (e.g. signboards must not exceed 3 feet x 2 feet).
Here’s the juicy part. The COA ruled that the display of the picture, image, motto, logo, color motif, initials or other symbolic or graphic representation associated with the top leadership of the project proponent or implementing agency on signboards is “considered unnecessary.” The same rule applies to members of Congress, executive officials or local officials where the project is implemented wholly or partially through any form of government fund transfers. The COA also ruled against the “unnecessary” display of publicity items on equipment, vehicles, wrappers, containers, tokens, souvenirs, calendars, ballpens, T-shirts or other apparel and other items.
The cost of the public notices can be charged against the project’s budget, provided such notices conform to the specifications. If not, COA chair Grace Tan said: “Ibalik nila pera (They should return the money).” The public can help uncover and report any violation of the circular to firstname.lastname@example.org. Doris C. Dumlao
MVP’s new wheels
Businessman Manny V. Pangilinan is in the market for a new ride this year. The word is that the PLDT chair has made it known to his friends and executives that he was keen on buying a Rolls Royce to bring him from boardroom to boardroom in Metro Manila’s traffic-choked streets. MVP currently rides an Audi A8.
MVP is planning to bring his new baby from the local authorized dealer (rumored to be bankrolled by Lucio Tan Jr.) that is set to open shop this year. He has not yet made up his mind if he wanted the “Spirit of Ecstasy” on the Rolls Royce hood in 24-karat gold or platinum.
And yes, Asia’s highest paid and most coveted CEO is making a statement that he is paying taxes and duties, including air freight, in his rare display of opulence even if it means doubling the acquisition cost. He is hoping the CEO who brought in a Ferrari Spider 458 through a diplomatic pass from an embassy of a Third World country (to cheat the government of taxes and duties) gets his message loud and clear. Gil Cabacungan
Reunited on Valentine’s
After an absence of almost four years, Colgate-Palmolive products are finally back on the shelves of SM stores such as the Supermarket, Hypermarket and Save More chains.
This came after both parties agreed to settle their long-running dispute, with both realizing the greater long-term benefits of being friends rather than enemies.
SM and Colgate parted ways in mid-2009 after an acrimonious “billing dispute” that saw a supposedly newly appointed Colgate-Palmolive official institute some radical changes in the way the manufacturer of popular toothpaste and shampoo brands billed the country’s biggest supermarket chain.
Neither side wanted to budge at that time, so the situation quickly deteriorated into a “who will blink first” standoff between one of the most popular fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products on the market and the country’s largest FMCG distribution chain. The latter was not quite bothered at that time, they said, because competitors were quick to fill the void.
We asked people in the know what exactly led to the reconciliation, but all they would disclose was an official-sounding statement to the tune of: “The SM Food Retail Group and Colgate-Palmolive Philippines have reached a mutual agreement to resume their business partnership to better respond to shoppers’ needs.”
Like true lovers kissing and making up, neither one seemed eager to dwell on the past. Daxim L. Lucas
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