Alvarez wants Road Board abolished to prevent road tax misuse

MANILA -- House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is pushing for the abolition of the Road Board to prevent the misuse of billions of pesos of the road user's tax.

Alvarez filed on Tuesday House Bill No. 6236 that seeks to abolish the Road Board and transfer its functions to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The Road Board was created under the Republic Act No. 8794, which imposed a motor vehicle users' charge on owners of all types of motor vehicles.

Under RA 8794, the Road Board is tasked to implement the prudent and efficient management and utilization of the special funds.

Alvarez said the special fund known as the road user's tax (road fund) is earmarked solely for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.

Alvarez, however, pointed out the illegal utilization of the road user's tax collection over the years, estimated to have amounted to a total of PHP90.72 billion from 2001 to December 2012.

Obviously, the Road Board is just another layer of bureaucracy, which became another avenue for graft and corruption, Alvarez said.

Under the bill, all collections of the road fund shall be remitted to the National Treasury and shall be appropriated to the DPWH and the DOTr that will implement the road safety measures and projects.

The bill retained the original provision of the law which requires that funds collected under RA 8794 pertaining to the Trust Fund for Pollution Control, shall be appropriated to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Alvarez cited Commission on Audit (COA) reports that some PHP515.50 million of the road fund was used in 2004 to 2008 for payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance and other operating expenses, which were properly chargeable to the regular budget.

COA also revealed that PHP62.52 million of the Road Fund was used in 2011 for the Road Board's engineering and administrative overhead expenses.

In 2013, COA found irregularities in the use of more than PHP1.66 billion of the funds.

Furthermore, COA noted from 2001 to 2010 that there were discrepancies amounting to PHP1.495 billion in the total collection of road user's tax between the collections declared by the Land Transportation Office and the certification from the Bureau of Treasury.

Source: Philippine News Agency