The good news is that the license plates have arrived in Manila, and are now with the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The bad news is, they are in 11 containers vans that the private importer has abandoned, and have incurred duties and taxes of about P40 million.
“We have seen the plates. These are in 11 containers. The duties and taxes just have to be paid,” Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said on Monday, February 29, at a media forum at the Manila Hotel.
The container vans, which recently arrived at the Manila port in separate batches, contain some 600,000 license plates.
However, Lina said, the shipments are under the name of a private “joint venture,” not under the Land Transportation Office (LTO) nor the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board.
“The shipments were abandoned so we took over,” the customs chief said.
While Lina did not identify the private importer, earlier reports named the joint venture of the Power Plates Development Concepts Incorporated and J Knieriem BV-Goes (JKG) as LTO’s supplier of license plates. (READ: ‘LTO should compel supplier to issue license plates’)
The joint venture bagged the P3.8-billion contract in 2013 under the LTO’s License Plates Standardization Program, but has failed to deliver.
The LTO has been under fire from motorists after 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.
Lina said the BOC is expecting the importer to settle the P40 million in taxes and duties within a week so the shipments can be released.
In May 2015, the Commission on Audit revealed it had ordered the LTO to stop paying the supplier. Auditors were studying the deal, following allegations that the bids and awards committee of the Department of Transportation and Communications favored the Dutch firm J Knieriem BV-Goes despite its alleged financial incapacity and inexperience.
During a Senate hearing at the time, 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 has stopped processing payments since COA issued its notice of suspension of payment. – Rappler.com