Solons question PCSO’s need for consultant for P10.9-B online lottery project
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers have questioned the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)’s move to hire a consultant firm to assist in the procurement of the P10.9-billion online lottery project.
At a PCSO briefing before the public accounts and games and amusements House panels on Tuesday, San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes lamented how the charity agency intends to pay consultancy firm Isla Lipana & Co. P46 million for its validation and assessment of the procurement process for PCSO’s Nationwide Online Lottery System (NOLS).
“Ang masakit po nito (This hurts because) we can pay a consultant for P46 million and yet we are only giving our indigent patients amount to P10,000 only. ‘Yun ang masakit, ‘yun ang katotohanan (That’s hurtful, but that’s the truth),” Robes said.
PCSO Chair Anselmo Simeon Pinili said the bidding for the consultant for the NOLS project is ongoing.
OIC-Assistant General Manager for Gaming, Product Development, and Marketing Arnel Casas, meanwhile, justified the need for a consultancy firm to “validate the cost per component and specifications per component of the system for the NOLS” as well as to satisfy the Commission on Audit (COA)’s advice on the project.
“Because we are talking about P10.9 billion, this consultant will also satisfy the inquiry of COA to ensure the component involved in this system and the particular software is accurate,” Casas said.
PCSO Assistant General Manager for Management Services Lauro Patiag also said a consultancy firm is needed to ensure that the terms of reference, the conduct of procurement, and its validation would be “accurate as advised by our COA.”
After choosing the consultant, the bidding for the five-year lease of NOLS, which has an approved budget of P10.906 billion, would start by February, according to Patiag.
Minority Leader and public accounts chair Rep. Danilo Suarez appealed to the PCSO to consider choosing a local system provider for its NOLS project.
“We still stand firm on our appeal to PCSO to localize. Kayo na lang (You do it), you don’t need to shell out (money)… You have the expertise,” the Quezon congressman said.
Private contractor Philippine Gaming Management Corporation (PGMC) operated the online lottery system of PCSO in Luzon, but its Equipment Lease Agreement with the agency ended on August 21, 2018. PGMC is owned by Malaysian firm Berjaya.
Pacific Online System Corp., on the other hand, handled the NOLS in the Visayas and Mindanao, but its contracts also expired last July 31.
Patiag said there is “no available local gaming consultant” at present because PCSO “has acquired experience on this.”
He also argued that the PCSO could not “affirm” their own approved budget for contract and procurement process because a consultant with credentials has to do this, as advised by COA.
“Prudence really dictated that the PCSO needs assistance,” he stressed.
Games and amusement panel chair Rep. Gus Tambunting, as well as Suarez, nonetheless maintained their opposition to the hiring of a consultant, saying that it would further delay the procurement process for the NOLS.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said he will bring up the issues at their board meeting on Wednesday.
Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of the global professional services giant PwC, provides “assurance and business advisory services to various industries,” according to its profile in the PwC website.
PCSO earlier said NOLS has a lower rate than the existing lottery systems and seeks to add security features. /ee
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