State auditors have recommended that the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) “immediately implement” rehabilitation projects aimed at improving its facilities
Based on a 2014 audit report on LRTA by the Commission on Audit (COA), the auditors reviewed the Multi-Year Projects of LRTA for System Lines 1 and 2 and found that despite the full release of a P1.314-billion stimulus fund in January 2014, the projects have not been implemented because of several project revisions.
“The numerous changes/revisions on the projects to be undertaken delayed the scheduled rehabilitation of Lines 1 and 2. After more than a year since the fund was released, there was not a single significant accomplishment involving rehabilitation of System Lines 1 and 2. The purpose of the grant of the stimulus fund was defeated and there was delay in providing the riding public with efficient railway service. The opportunity to address promptly the commuters’ complaints made known in daily news from radio, TV and newspapers was overlooked or lost,” the audit report said.
The auditors said that from the original line of projects submitted by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in 2013 to support its request for funding, “there were at least three revisions of the projects lined up which probably caused the delay and subsequent non-implementation of any of the projects.”
Citing the Project Status Report as of March 31, 2015, they noted that “most of the projects were only in the process of preparation of the Terms of Reference.”
Based on the audit report, of the 24 projects originally proposed and submitted to the DBM for funding, 17 projects for Line 2 were implemented but using the P1.867-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fund.
“The two projects in Line 1 were no longer included in the revised list of Multi-Year Projects in view of the Concession Agreement on the Maintenance and Operations of Line 1 under the Public Private Partnership scheme undertaken by the DOTC,” the auditors said.
COA also noted that the 45 projects listed on the Multi-Year Projects approved in October 2013 “were entirely different from the original projects proposed/submitted to the DBM.”
According to the audit report, 13 projects lined up for Line 1 were excluded from the list of Multi-Year Projects as of March 23, 2015.
Two projects were deferred for financing under the P977-million Corporate Operating Budget of the LRTA provided in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“At Line 2, only 14 of the 32 projects were retained; while, the other projects were deferred with funding source to be derived from the CY 2015 GAA,” the auditors said.
COA further observed that the Multi-Year Projects as of March 23, 2015 showed two “different” projects for Line 1 (Rail diagnostic facilities and equipment and Overhauling of brake system for 3 G trains) totaling P304,310,000.”
While at Line 2, three new projects were included in the Multi-Year Projects as of March 23, 2015 in addition to the 14 projects retained and approved in October 2013.
The auditors said, “With the fund already made available for more than a year, we found no more significant reasons to further hinder the implementation of the projects.”
“We recommended that management immediately implement the planned rehabilitation projects for the improvement of facilities and services,” they added.
While the audit report stated that the LRTA had not submitted its written comments, it said the agency explained during an exit conference last June that changes in the line-up of rehabilitation projects for Lines 1 and 2 resulted from “the prioritization of projects.”
“The frequent changes of the projects for implementation just to accommodate which subsidy will be utilized constitute realignment of funds requiring the approval of the DBM.
These actions resulted in the non-implementation of the original projects lined up for rehabilitation of Lines 1 and 2 when the requested funding was already approved by the DBM and needed to provide the riding public efficient railway transport system,” it said.