Auditors P&AUSE to lend a hand
Auditors P&AUSE to lend a hand
By Carla Paras-Sison, Reporter
Contrary to the occupational stereotype, accountants are not all stingy bean counters disallowing expenses and boring through the loopholes in tax laws.
Personnel of Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), which is recognized as one of the country’s big four auditing firms, are engaged in various socio-civic projects and show that accountants do have conscience and heart.
Back in 1998, P&A was made up of only seven people: founding partners Benjamin R. Punongbayan and Jose G. Araullo; four managers; and one secretary. Now, it is made up of 19 partners and over 500 personnel, with offices in Makati, Cavite, Davao and Cebu. From 1998 to 2007, P&A experienced a 42% growth, based on revenues.
The steady success of the company and its ability to support employee initiatives encouraged P&A personnel to form P&A For a Cause (P&AUSE) in October 2002.
“Heeding the need for conscious voluntary service in addressing economic, social, and environmental problems arising from poverty and underdevelopment, P&A conceptualized P&AUSE. On June 18, 2003, P&A formally registered the P&A Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Firm. P&AUSE is now housed under the Foundation,” recalls P&AUSE president, Noreen Joy Romero.
Today, P&AUSE works with other sectors and institutions with work in the following areas of concern: health and nutrition; shelter and infrastructure; livelihood and enterprise development; sustainable development and environment; education and youth formation; and gender and human development. Members also communicated their suggested projects in an annual general assembly.
One is Project P&Aaralan, a long-term endeavor in which P&AUSE officers and a team from the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) surveyed different schools across Metro Manila to assess which school best suited the objective of the project.
“This project focuses not only on educational assistance for deserving students and teachers, but also on interventions geared toward the development of the physical, cognitive and psycho-social conditions of differently-abled children and malnourished students,” Romero explains.
Components of the project are P&AKain, an enhanced feeding program for the school’s undernourished student; P&Aaral, the provision of grants to deserving students, through learning materials such as workbooks and supplies, and teachers, through enhancement studies on special education; P&Aaral Espesyal, the development of a special education program; and P&ABayanihan, an avenue for employee volunteerism.
Kapitbahayan Elementary School, the only public school in Navotas that offers special education was chosen as the first beneficiary for Project P&Aaralan.
The feeding program P&AKain started in July 2007. In determining which children will participate in the feeding program, the students were weighed and assessed for undernutrition at the start of the school year. The menu was prepared in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, while the actual preparation of the food was done by the school’s cook.
Romero says, “P&AUSE is committed to facilitating the feeding three times a week for six months. Its partner organization for this project, PBSP, constantly monitors the project. After six months, the project shall be evaluated to determine if P&AUSE will continue supporting this endeavor.”
Francis Albalate, P&A partner and head of Transaction Advisory Services is the designated partner-in-charge of P&AUSE to provide guidance.
“In terms of running P&AUSE, the P&A partners’ participation is almost nil. The decisions on what projects to undertake and when to do it are made by the volunteers. Even th e election
of officers is left entirely to them. The partner that is assigned to them provides guidance – but his authority is not directive, only suggestive. He is also tasked to sign off on the expenses, which is mostly ministerial since the projects and budgets are also made by the officers of the organization. Of course, the Partners also participate by taking part in the projects,” says Albalate.
Partners, through P&A, contribute funds to P&AUSE. Whatever amount is raised by the employees is matched peso-for-peso by the partners.
About 116 employees contribute a percentage of their monthly salary to the organization. This is approximately 22 percent of the total number of employees.
“There are some employees who do not contribute financially, but participate in the activities,” says Romero.
The financial participation of the partners is a big boost to the employee organization since funding the feeding program for 150 undernourished pupils in Kapitbahayan Elementary School alone would cost P105,300 in six months, per a memorandum of agreement signed between P&AUSE, PBSP, Kabisig ng Lahi Foundation, and the Department of Education which approved the participation of the public school.
Employee time for P&AUSE is given voluntarily and those in charge of the feeding program and other P&AUSE endeavors are the same personnel who perform auditing and accounting work for P&A clients, pausing from work to lend a hand to communities where they can make a difference.
(As published in 3 December 2007 issue of The Philippine Star)