Road Board on abolition call: We already addressed Alvarez concerns
The Road Board has already addressed the Commission on Audit findings on the alleged misuse of public funds, it said in response to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s call for its abolition.
In a statement on Sunday, the Road Board said “we recognize the good intentions behind House Bill No. 6236” recently filed by Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, who sought to remove “just another layer of bureaucracy, which became an avenue for graft and corruption.”
However, it said the audit observations on the alleged misuse of the road users’ tax from 2002 to 2013 “were looked into by the new administration which assumed office in August 2016.”
The Road Board said it already requested the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate and file charges against unspecified “individuals who have used spurious public documents to facilitate fund transfers.”
Besides this, the Board said it “rationalized” the coordinating system between the Land Transportation Office, which collects the tax, and the Bureau of Treasury to address the issue of unreconciled balances.
It touted that unreconciled balances have been pared down within a year by 86 percent to P607 million as of Aug. 24 this year, from the P4.385 billion recorded as of Sept. 26, 2016.
It also cited its circular prohibiting transactions with contractors and other private persons in the preparation of project proposals for funding using Motor Vehicle Users’ Charge (MVUC), limiting the release of information to duly authorized representatives of the project proponents.
The Board also said it sent letters to lawmakers and the DPWH-District Engineering Offices (DEOs) informing them of the policy that no authority was granted to any individual to facilitate any approval and release of the corresponding funds.
The statement also noted that the Office of the President already took control of the Board to “prevent dissipation of MVUC funds and malfeasance in public office.”
The Road Board was created under Republic Act No. 8794 to manage the tax proceeds meant for road maintenance and drainage improvement, installation of street lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.
The bill’s explanatory note cited CoA findings that P90.72 billion have been illegally used from 2001 to 2012. This included P515.5 million used to pay Road Board expenses and employee salaries from 2004 to 2008, P62.52 million used for Road Board maintenance and overhead expenses in 2011, and P1.66 billion in irregularly used funds in 2013.
The House leaders instead want the road users’ tax to be remitted directly to the National Treasury to be appropriated to the relevant agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation, which could implement the street projects. JE
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