PEZA has P23M in uncollected fees – COA
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) was unable to collect P23.75 million worth of permits, inspection, and administration fees because it did not properly enforce its policies, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.
In its audit of PEZA, COA explained that the agency’s flowchart in the issuance of preconstruction permits was not being followed.
Under the process, locators — or enterprises working with PEZA in creating sites and attraction for foreign tourists — should only get permits once the Support Services Department (SuSD) finishes site inspection and after settlement of dues.
However, PEZA personnel told COA that some locators obtain the Statement of Assessments (SOA) — which is the basis of payment of permit fees — but then pay at their own discretion. This left PEZA with a total of P11.17 million uncollected permit and inspections fees.
“There are locators who do not claim the permits they applied for, hence the corresponding fees are not being paid. Unclaimed permits remain in the possession of the SuSD,” the commission explained in the report, which was released last June 29.
These locators allegedly continued to work even without settling their obligations. They also had violations of the National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP) for not securing building, sanitary, fencing, electrical, and mechanical permits.
“We were informed that the engineering department cannot stop or suspend the locators’ operations because only the mechanical, electronics or electrical aspect of the entity lack the necessary permit, not the whole company operations,” COA said.
“We also learned that the continuous operations without the required permits constitute violation by the locators of the NBCP regulations which would be penalized based on the provision under Section 212 – Administrative Fines of the Implementing Rules & Regulations of the NBCP and a corresponding surcharge would be imposed by SuSD on the next inspection date,” COA added.
PEZA employees also relayed that some of the prepared SOAs were not released, making it impossible to bill the locators. According to COA, these should have been forwarded by the SuSD to the finance group to monitor the locators with outstanding accounts.
“Thus, SOAs are not being sent to locators to remind them to pay the fees due from them,” COA said.
With regards to the P12.56 million worth of uncollected administrative fees, COA said PEZA released a memorandum last August 2016 setting the release of monthly billings for administrative fees by the third working day of the month, with a deadline every 15th day of the same month.
However, management supposedly did not implement the billing and collection procedures. This was done even if PEZA had the power to suspend, disapprove, or withhold a violating developer’s application for permits.
“Review of pertinent documents and inquiry with concerned personnel disclosed that Management does not implement the billing and collection procedures,” COA said.
“On a test basis, it was noted that the developer/ operator of Tabangao Special Economic was unable to pay the required fee aggregating P0.326 million since 2011,” the commission added.
COA advised PEZA to collect the unsettled fees and strictly implement the collection policies aside from intensifying their collection efforts.
In response, the management of PEZA said they were already developing a billing and collection system to efficiently monitor the locators and developers.
PEZA also vowed to send final demand letters to all erring developers and locators, asking them to settle their obligations or face legal action from their Legal Services Group.
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