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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Service fee for LTO’s gateway system assailed

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THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) has been charging “enormous service fees” to the motoring public, the National Public Transport Coalition (NPTC) claimed.

In a statement, NPTC National Convenor Ariel Lim alleged that the LTO charges drivers, vehicle owners, auto dealers, and operators a minimum of P75 per transaction when paying through the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS).

He said such a convenience fee, paid to payments processing company Paynamics, is an “added financial burden to the motoring public, especially to the low-income public utility vehicle [PUV] drivers.”

However, LTO Strategic Communications Office Chief Divine Reyes clarified that the convenience fee is only P60.

“Applicants have the option to pay at our district and extension offices, which is free. I understand that there are discussions about how we can lower the convenience fee,” Reyes said in a Viber message.

Lim, for his part, said that “since the government already owns the LTMS, the public should not be charged these additional fees,” calling it a “money-making scheme and a vehicle for corruption.”

He likewise questioned the selection process of the payment gateway partner as to “whether it underwent proper bidding and accreditation, and the basis of such a price for a service fee,” which it said is higher than the usual rate of P25 to P45.

He claimed that besides the P75 service charge, some motorists, especially those with limited know-how on using computers, resort to paying P100 to P200 to “fixers” just to open an LTMS account.

NPTC has already called on lawmakers to investigate the alleged system glitches and irregularities of the LTMS project due to the failure of LTO’s foreign IT provider, Dermalog, to deliver its output on time despite receiving full payment amounting to P3.19 billion.

At a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation on May 11, committee chairman and Antipolo 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop questioned Dermalog’s capability to deliver the IT needs of the LTO, after a letter dated March 29, 2023, from LTO chief Assistant Secretary Jose Arturo Tugade asked LTO’s long-time IT provider Stradcom to continue its operations until the LTMS is fully operational.

Tugade explained he only asked Stradcom to stay until the migration of data from the old system to LTMS is completed. He earlier said LTO will be fully utilizing the LTMS by August 31, 2023, despite the reported glitches and incomplete system functionalities.

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