DOTr also fails to fully use P 9.5-B aid funds | Inquirer News
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DOTr also fails to fully use P 9.5-B aid funds

/ 05:12 AM August 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) failed to fully use its P9.5-billion COVID-19 intervention budget mainly due to delays in fund releases, resulting in the return of P101.425 million to the treasury and continued misery to transportation sector workers.

“Had the DOTr released the funds from the date of submission of the required documents by the implementing agencies, there would have been a greater number of critically impacted businesses benefited by the assistance program as at year-end and the attainment of the optimum use of its allocated budget of P9.5 billion would have ensued,” the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

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Under Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), P557.63 million was allotted for subsidies for the maritime sector and testing of returning seafarers, P821.36 million for the aviation sector and P8.121 billion for the road sector.

But the late release of the special allotment release order from the Department of Budget and Management and other deficiencies “hampered the attainment of the optimum use” of funds.

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The DOTr said COVID-19 restrictions also affected the movement and signing of documents since some of the signatories were in Manila and the disinfection of documents took some time.

“Time is of the essence during this pandemic, thus, expeditious implementation of identified COVID-19-related programs/projects is necessary to ensure that funds are fully and properly utilized for its purpose and eventually to guarantee achievement of objectives for which such funds were released,” the COA said.

The COA also called out the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for its delayed distribution of one-time P6,500 cash subsidies for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers.

Only P839.52 million out of the P1.161 billion funds for direct cash subsidy was disbursed to 129,157 beneficiaries as of December 2020, leaving 49,097 PUV drivers without cash subsidies.

The direct cash subsidy program and the service contracting program are both funded by the Bayanihan 2 law, which expired on June 30.

As to the service contracting program, its delayed implementation resulted in only P59.72 million or 1 percent of the total project cost of P5.58 billion being obligated for the purpose.

Of this amount, only P8.811 million, or 0.015 percent, of the total project cost, was actually disbursed as of the end of 2020.

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Only 29,871 drivers, or 49.79 percent, of the 60,000 targeted beneficiaries were registered in the service contracting program, 16,410 driver-participants were oriented about the program and 8,865 drivers signed contracts.

The LTFRB financial and management division pointed to the late downloading of funds in November 2020, the delayed launching of the program and the late and incomplete submission of required documents by the driver-participants.

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TAGS: COA, COVID-19 response, DOTr COVID-19 funds
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