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LTFRB explains low-fund spend on commuter service program

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The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Wednesday that the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the P5.5-billion Service Contracting Program only covered the initial phase of the program, clarifying that it has disbursed P1.5 billion of the total to beneficiaries.

Aside from this, the regulatory body is also working with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of P3.3 billion on the remaining account payables.

“To set the records straight, with the actual funds downloaded to LTFRB only in November 2020, 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,” the transport regulator said.

The LTFRB signed in December 2020 an agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) for the release of the cash subsidies to beneficiaries.

“Therefore, it is misleading to angle certain reports and columns that only 1 percent was used from the P5.56-billion funds for the Service Contracting Program, where in fact, the 1-percent utilization rate only covers the implementation month of December 2020, which is also the coverage/extent of the COA report that was released,” the LTFRB said.

To recall, the COA recently flagged the Service Contracting Program in its 2020 report, which said the LTFRB only used 1 percent or P59 million of the P5.56-billion fund for the initiative.

The report claimed that the delays in the implementation of the program, which it said ranged between two and 10 weeks, resulted in “minimal fund utilization of only P59.720 million or 1.07 percent of the project fund.”

“As of June 30, 2021, P1.5 billion was released to beneficiary drivers nationwide and for procurement of the Systems Manager, responsible in 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 clarified.

It added that it has still P3.3 billion of account payables that have already been coordinated with the DBM for release.

Aside from the “minimal fund utilization” the audit body also said in its report that only 29,800 drivers or almost 50 percent of the 60,000 targeted participants were registered in the program as of end-2020.

However, according to the LTFRB, at end-June, there were 70,303 registered participants, of which 50,068 had executed contracts.

“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,” the LTFRB said.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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