The Commission on Audit called out the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for using only 1 percent of the P5.58 billion funds allocated to the benefit program for drivers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its 2020 report, COA said the LTFRB only used around P59 million of the P5.58 billion funds of the agency’s Service Contracting Program.
“Delays in the implementation of the Service Contracting Program ranging from two to 10 weeks as at December 31, 2020 resulted in the minimal fund utilization of only P59,720, 089 or 1.07% of the total project fund,” the COA said.
It added that this also delayed the intended benefits to the PUV drivers and operators, who are the beneficiaries of the program.
Also, the state auditor also pointed out that only over 29,800 drivers or 49.79 percent of the 60,000 targeted driver participants were registered in the program as of the end of the year.
Due to this, COA advised the LTFRB to review its guidelines and simplify the process for the implementation of the program to maximize the use of the funds and the participation of beneficiaries.
Last May, Senator Grace Poe criticized the LTFRB for its slow rollout for assistance for drivers without income during the pandemic.
At the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, LTFRB chairperson Martin Delgra III said that the bureau has already released 26.55 percent of the total budget of the Service Contracting Program, which was set up to end on June 30, 2021, the day the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2's validity lapses.
He also pointed out that the process involved collection of data and preparation of payroll as well as other financial documents.
“Hindi po natin maabot doon sa last day of June 30 [We could not make the program's last day of June 30),” he said.
Following the advice of the Department of Budget and Management, Delgra said, the LTFRB will return the unutilized amount as of June 30.
The agency will just request funds again when needed, he added.
“Yung unspent amount po na as of June 30 under Service Contracting Program, maibalik. Pero meron pong ibabalik ayon doon sa ni-request naming amount na kailangan namin,” he said.
[The unspent amount as of June 30 under the Service Contracting Program will be returned. But, some amount will be returned to us based on requested amount that we need.] — BM, GMA News