Andaya: ‘P100B payables restored kickback system for DPWH contracts’
MANILA, Philippines— House appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. on Friday said the unpaid contracts for infrastructure projects in 2018 have ballooned to P100 billion which allegedly forced some contractors to resort to bribery just to be paid.
In a statement, the Camarines Sur 1st District congressman said concerned Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) employees have intimated to him that the payables for 2018 infrastructure projects have risen from P44 billion last November 2018 to more than P100 billion at the end of the year.
“Utang ito ng DBM sa mga government contractors na lumobo nang mahigit sa P100 bilyon sa pagsasara ng taon. Hanggang ngayon, malaki pa ang halagang hindi nababayaran ng DBM sa mga utang na ito,” Andaya explained.
This “gargantuan amount of payable,” the lawmaker said, forces DPWH contractors to “cough up kickbacks just to be paid for completed infrastructure projects.”
“According to my sources, the release of payment from the DBM to DPWH varies per engineering district. Some districts were paid 10 percent only, others 30 percent. Depende sa lagayan. ‘Yung hindi naglalagay, zero payment,” the congressman said, claiming that notices of cash allocation were given in lump sum and discretion was given to regional directors, so some contractors “have to resort to bribery.”
DPWH casuals were also not paid their salaries for three months and were only given payment last week, while 99 percent of the contractors were still not paid fully for the completed projects, according to Andaya.
“In short, the DBM has resorted to rationing of payments. If there was rice shortage before, now there is cash shortage thanks to Sec. Diokno,” he added.
The congressman then warned that legitimate contractors might not continue bidding for infrastructure projects due to fears that the government could not pay them on time.
“A contractors’ revolt is possible. The Build, Build, Build Program may turn out to be Stop, Stop, Stop Program, courtesy of Sec. Diokno. Given this scenario, an economic slowdown is imminent,” Andaya added.
Andaya’s exposès against Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno has yet to stop even as the 2019 national budget was already approved and ratified by both chambers of Congress.
The congressman has been accusing the Budget chief of “inserting” some P75 billion infrastructure fund in the proposed 2019 national budget without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DPWH, as well as district congressmen.
Diokno said the P75 billion should not be called “insertions” as these were “adjustments” that were part of the budget process. He added that this was a mere diversion from the “pork barrel” issue. /muf
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