COA TELLS HOSPITAL CASHIERS: ‘Stop acting as collecting agents’

By: Gerome Dalipe

STATE auditors have ordered all 11 provincial hospitals in Iloilo to stop the practice of allowing their cashiers to act as collecting agents of their colleagues.

Commission on Audit (COA) issued the order after discovering that the cashier of Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital in Cabatuan town, Iloilo acted as a collecting agent of her colleagues.

Apart from being the collecting agent of her fellow workers, the hospital cashier also collected the debts of those who purchased curtains, fish, and other novelty items such as watches and personal loans from private lenders.

“Allowing this practice hampered the operations and increased risks associated with cashiering, which included possible misapplication or possible loss of funds,” read the 2018 COA report of the Capitol’s finances.

The practice also violates Sec. 48 of the General Appropriation Act, which provides that deductions from salaries and other benefits to any government employees may be allowed for the payment of an individual employee’s contributions or obligations.

When the hospital cashier doubles as a collecting agent, state auditors said she is limiting her time to perform other mandated functions. Worse, she might “co-mingle” government and private funds.

The cashier’s other obligation was discovered when auditors verified the withholding of PhilHealth shares and wages for the payment of the loaned medicines.

The hospital cashier reportedly confirmed that she had been doing such practice for a long time. And being part of her routine, the cashier said she is used to such additional task.

Instead of stopping such practice, the auditors said the hospital management even tolerated such erroneous practice.

That’s because even some hospital personnel availed the “services” of the cashier as a collecting agent.

“Instead of correcting this erroneous practice, the hospital management personnel also benefited from it,” the auditors lamented.

Likewise, the auditors said that their recommendation for the hospital management to disburse salaries through the use of automatic teller machines fell on deaf ears of the hospital officials.

“The hospital management needed to be reminded that a public office is a public trust and government employees should refrain from advancing personal interests in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities,” the auditors said.

Likewise, the auditors also urged the hospital management to coordinate with Capitol’s Internal Audit Services to strengthen controls in cash management.