THE SUPREME Court (SC) has affirmed an order by the Commission on Audit (CoA) seeking a P5-million refund from officers and payees of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) which the commission had disallowed.

The commission ordered the refund in 2009 because PSALM violated CoA Circular 89-300 released in 2006 that required receipts for reimbursement of Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expenses (EMEs) instead of only the certificates of expenses issued by the claimants.

The P5-million EME reimbursements for 2008 and 2009 were covered only by certificates instead of receipts.

In its decision dated April 27 and made public on July 15, the court dismissed PSALM’s claim that the CoA circular does not apply to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), which are regulated under the Government Appropriations Act.

The act allows GOCCs to reimburse EMEs on the basis of certificates in the absence of receipts.

However, the high court held that the CoA circular “applies to all GOCCs, GFIs (government financial institutions) and their subsidiaries.”

The court further clarified that the CoA circular overrides the General Appropriations Act’s grant of authority to GOCCs to disburse EMEs covered by certificates from the claimants in the absence of receipts.

The circular’s intent is to ensure that EME disbursements of GOCCs, GFIs and their subsidiaries do not constitute “irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable government expenditures.” — Bianca Angelica D. Añago