COA: Is gov't getting fair share of tollway fees from operators?

Published June 7, 2021, 6:33 PM

by Ben Rosario

Is government getting its fair share from fees motorists pay to tollway operators? The Commission on Audit had this question in mind when it chided the Toll Regulatory Board for failing to determine the correctness and accuracy of collections and remittances due the Bureau of Treasury from tollway firms.

In its 2020 annual audit report of the TRB, COA said the BTr received from the TRB a total P541,882,530.76 representing supervision fees, revenue shares and cash dividends that government is entitled to from the operations of the various tollways in the country.

“The TRB Regulation Division (RD) and Financial and Administrative Division (FAD) failed to conduct audit and validation of the financial records of tollway operators pursuant to TRB Office Order No. 2018-23 dated June 11, 2018; hence, the correctness and accuracy of the collections and remittances to the BTr of supervision fees, revenue shares and cash dividends of P541,882,530.76 could not be ensured,” the state audit agency observed.

This is the second year TRB received such adverse audit findings on a similar issue.. In 2019, it failed to validate computations and submit supporting documents of accounts receivables from the operators.

As gathered from the 2019 audit report, COA directed TRB to comply with Office No. 2018 by regularly conducting audit of accounting and related records of toll operators and by validating the amount of remittances, totaling over P91 million, against supporting schedules and documents.

According to COA aside from concession fees, revenue share from toll collection, concession fees and dividend share from investments, government is also entitled to to earnings from road advertisements.

State audit examiners noted that in the audit of collections and remittances of the various shares of government, they found no evidence or proof that the TRB’s RD and FAD have “indeed verified or audited the financial records” of tollway operators.

“It bears to note that the basis of the amount collected was merely the schedules prepared and submitted by tollway operators, hence, casting doubts on the correctness and accuracy of the amount remitted to TRB,” COA stated.

TRB, COA said, is a regulatory agency of the government that is mandated to conduct audit and validation on the audited financial statements of toll operators to ensure correctness and accuracy of the amount it received “rather than simply relying” on what the toll operators feed them.

Responding to the COA findings, the TRB management explained that validation of the accuracy of remittance in 2020 could not be undertaken because audited financial statements of toll operators was still to be released in 2021.