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MANILA, Philippines – The government could be losing millions in its share of toll revenues after it failed to verify a discrepancy in the reported toll revenue of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
The discrepancy: P338.8 million.
These findings were detailed in the 2022 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) 2022 on the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). The SCTEX is one of the biggest projects of the BCDA, the government-owned and controlled corporation tasked with transforming military bases into economic centers.
The NLEX Corporation, which now manages the SCTEX, reported that the expressway only brought in a gross toll revenue of P3.258 billion. However, when COA used the Jaspersoft System – the software used to track traffic and revenues for the SCTEX – to generate a report, it found a higher gross revenue of P3.597 billion.
Asked to explain, BCDA personnel said that P239.4 million of the P338.8 million difference came from “manual adjustments” given by NLEX, while another P99.86 million came from “discounts, exempts, emergency, and special pass.” BCDA also reported P451,290.12 as “additional adjustments.”
The manual adjustments supposedly referred to cash collections with manual official receipts that experienced issues like double-charging and charging the farthest distance.
BCDA’s management admitted that because of the volume of transactions to be checked, it didn’t conduct a detailed review of the adjustments done by NLEX.
“We clarified if the said reports were duly validated and scrutinized by BCDA considering the huge number of manual adjustments…. The only validation procedures performed by the concerned personnel from SAPMD was to request the submission of supporting documents for the toll revenue reports, and checking the amounts tallied and the calculations are correct,” COA said in its audit.
COA also noted that BCDA failed to duly verify the other adjustments, like the exempt, special pass, and emergency transactions.
How will this affect the government?
The BCDA is entitled to receive 50% of the gross toll collections from the SCTEX after it entered into a business agreement with NLEX Corporation for the management, operation, and maintenance of the expressway.
In fact, the share of BCDA in toll revenues from SCTEX represents one of the agency’s biggest sources of revenues. In 2022, the BCDA received P1.629 billion, half of the P3.258 billion earned by the NLEX Corporation.
Following COA’s recommendation, BCDA has since “committed to undertake a more detailed review of the said manual adjustments, including the exempt, special pass, and emergency transactions,” which will be submitted to the state auditor. – Rappler.com/Lance Spencer Yu