LTFRB explains why only 1% of P5.5-B funds for drivers’ assistance was released as of Dec. 2020By TED CORDERO,GMA News
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday shed light on the Commission on Audit (COA) 2020 report which flagged the agency for using only 1%, as of December last year, of the P5.5-billion funds allocated for the benefit program for drivers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In a statement, the LTFRB said the actual funds for its Service Contracting Program was downloaded only to the agency in November 2020.
It said the Service Contracting Program was immediately implemented to incentivize public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators who were given permission to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it said that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the LTFRB and the Landbank of the Philippines was only signed in December 2020.
The Landbank governed the distribution of cash subsidies to eligible beneficiaries of different modes of public land transportation through crediting to existing Landbank accounts, other bank accounts, or e-money/wallet of GCash or PayMaya via InstaPay or PESONet.
With the MOA only signed on December 2020, the LTFRB said the 1% utilization rate called out by COA only covers the implementation month of December 2020, “which is also the coverage/extent of the COA report that was released.”
“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% 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.
The LTFRB, meanwhile, said drivers or operators were required to complete the orientation and to submit required documents to secure a permit to operate to ensure strict compliance with the service contracting agreement.
“The LTFRB through its Technical Working Group (TWG) and the Program Implementing Unit (PIU) took reasonable efforts to address the lack of manpower and streamed down the process without compromising the integrity and reliability of data,” it said.
With this, the agency said as of June 30, 2021, it released P1.5 billion to beneficiary drivers nationwide and for the procurement of the systems manager responsible for the development and management of all project systems.
“Wherein, initial payouts of P4,000 were provided to 23,410 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P25,000 were provided to 8,461 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P20,000 were provided to 702 drivers; and; 18,864 drivers received their weekly payouts,” the LTFRB said.
“To date, the LTFRB is in close coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of funds amounting to P3.3 billion on the remaining account payables,” it said.
The LTFRB disclosed the regional disbursement breakdown of the releases for the program:
- NCR: P899,283,017
- Region I : P30,880,623
- Region II: P22,700,504
- Region III: P66,521,375
- Region IV: P100, 976, 294
- Region V: P961, 133
- Region VI: P57,889,214
- Region VII: P14, 594,682
- Region VIII: P2,122,413
- Region IX: P21,065,854
- Region X: P28,938,937
- Region XI: P17,494,636
- Region XII: P81,798,612
- CARAGA: P72,533,642
- CAR: P26,635,722
“Rest assured that the LTFRB is committed to helping the DOTr [Department of Transportation] achieve its goal in improving the public transport system towards the development of long-term solutions in the service of our drivers, operators, and the public in general, especially during this time of the pandemic,” it said. —KG, GMA News