THE Commission on Audit has raised questions on the alleged excessive and unregulated mobile phone and Internet subscription expenses incurred by the Light Rail Transit Authority that reached P251.257 million in 2015.
In a report, the Commission said that the LRTA spent P3.110 million for cellphone load use and P248.17 million for Internet service.
The LRTA had 133 postpaid subscription plans ranging from P500 to P3,800 and eight postpaid mobile broadband and or WiFi plans of P1,149 each for four units and P1,000 for another four units.
The report also stated that some officials were allowed to use more than one postpaid plan.
Postpaid mobile phone subscription plans were granted to 40 rank-and-file personnel with salary grade 7 to 21, and eight drivers in the absence of the approval of the administrative and finance departments.
CoA said the grant of the cellphone plans was not in compliance with the LRTA’s own rules stating only those with salary grade 22 and above were entitled such benefits, except in exceptional cases.
“A member of the Board of Directors was also enjoying a P2,500 plan every month, in violation of Section 2.4 (b) of GCG Memorandum Circular 2012-02 (Re-Issued) dated May 2, 2012 which provides that the only time that Directors obtain a reimbursement of expenses can be limited only to transportation expenses for attending meetings; travel expenses for official travels; communications expenses; and meals during business meetings,” the CoA said.
“We also noted that LRTA Office Order No. 46 cited above provides that after the expiration of the lock-in period, the End-Users shall not be required to surrender his/her official Mobile Phone to the AMD for the reason that there was no cash outlay for the phone and only its usage was paid by LRTA. Moreover, the costs of the mobile phone were not recorded in the books of LRTA.”
Government money was used for the payment of the LRTA’s monthly subscriptions, the Audit said.
“The costs of the related gadgets may be subsidized but should not be totally free because certain amount will be paid in case the service contract is canceled earlier than the lock-in period. The costs are already integrated in the monthly subscriptions which the LRTA is paying. Hence, it is just and reasonable that the gadgets be returned to LRTA upon the issuance of new units,” the Commission said.
“We recognized that mobile phones are important communication tool in business and necessary in the efficient operations of LRTA but the same should be granted within the parameters of the LRTA policy and budget limitation,” the CoA said.