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BI loses nearly P1B in express lane revenues in 2017 due to misreading of Duterte’s veto – COA

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The Bureau of Immigration has lost nearly P1 billion in express lane collections due to its wrong interpretation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto message on the said fees.

In its annual audit report, COA said the BI stopped the collection of the P500 fee for the quick or same day release of documents of foreigners applying for registration, extension of stay, conversion of status and legalization in 2017.

COA said the BI acted on Duterte’s veto message in December 2016 stopping the use of express lane collections for the overtime payment and healthcare premium of casual and contractual personnel, confidential agents and job order employees, augmentation of salaries of personnel.

COA argued that BI erred in interpreting Duterte’s order. “The team believes that it is only the use of express lane charges collected that was vetoed by the President and not the collection from express lane charges inasmuch as the veto message also provides that, ‘the collected fees from the express lane charges should now be deposited as income of the General Fund’,” COA said.

“The termination of the said collections resulted in the loss of income on the part of the government that could have been utilized for the improvement of the economy,” it added.

Due to the BI’s misreading of the President’s veto, COA said 2017 collections dropped by 60 percent or P869 million from the previous year’s revenue of P1.437 billion after BI stopped collecting from express lane charges starting in June 2017.

COA has asked BI management to submit its basis for terminating the collection express lane charges and not complying with the President’s order to deposit the funds as government income. “ In the future, Management should also consider the effects of its decision in the government as a whole.

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