LTO: License plates could be out in March if issues settled
MANILA, Philippines – Motorists may be able to get their new license plates this month if the issue of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) with the Commission on Audit (COA) is resolved, and payments to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) go off without a hitch. (READ: Delayed license plates abandoned at Manila port – customs)
"Assuming the COA lifts the disallowance, LTO and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will then process the payments of the plates with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), COA, etc and start the delivery to the users as soon as the containers are received from the supplier," LTO chief Roberto Cabrera III said in a text message to Rappler.
"With all, we are expecting to start release to the consumers within 2-3 weeks more or less," Cabrera added.
In order for that to happen though, the duties and taxes amounting to P40 million ($843,610) should be paid as the license plates are currently held by the BOC. They were earlier declared abandoned by the private importer.
Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said that the BOC is expecting the importer, identified as a joint venture of Power Plates Development Concepts Incorporated and Dutch firm J Knieriem BV-Goes (JKG), to settle the taxes and duties within a week so the shipments can be released.
Cabrera made it clear that it is the joint venture that will settle the bill.
"First, the taxes and duties (including fines if any) are to be shouldered by the consignee, in this case JKG. As per rules of BOC, shipments are to be claimed and paid for within a certain number of days," he said.
Cabrera also pointed out that "the payments of taxes and duties have no connection with the COA disallowance."
In May 2015, the COA said it had ordered the LTO to stop paying the supplier.
This compelled the LTO to temporarily stop collecting fees for the replacement of old license plates, which it announced last December.
It said at the time that, however, that "the new standardized plates will be released to motorists who have settled the payment as soon as the issue with COA is resolved."
In January of this year, the LTO also filed a motion for reconsideration asking the COA to lift the notice of disallowance.
The license plates are part of the DOTC's long delayed license plate standardization program, for which the joint venture bagged the P3.8-billion ($80.25 million) contract to supply new plates in 2013 but failed to deliver.
Last year, the LTO came under fire from motorists after it announced that it would strictly implement its "No registration, no travel" policy beginning April 1, 2015.
Under the policy, vehicle owners who cannot show proof that they have already registered their vehicles would face penalties.
The bidding process for the program, however, came under scrutiny.
Auditors were studying the deal, following allegations that the bids and awards committee of the DOTC favored J Knieriem BV-Goes despite its alleged financial incapacity and inexperience.
During a Senate hearing at the time, former LTO chief Alfonso Tan Jr said the agency already made initial payments amounting to P477 million ($10.66 million) to the suppliers.
But he added that the LTO stopped processing payments since COA issued its notice of suspension of payment. – Rappler.com
$1 = P47.35