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DICT public Wi-Fi program questioned

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the public Wi-Fi program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and said its funding suggested that the private sector partner would have more power over the program than the agency.

State auditors also said in their annual audit report that government funds set aside for the Pipol Konek program appeared to be a “donation” since the DICT had no control over the project.

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UNDP

The DICT partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the free Wi-Fi program. Under the terms of partnership, however, the COA said it appeared that full control of the program was with the UNDP, rather than the DICT.

“Ownership of equipment, supplies, and other property financed from the contribution shall vest in UNDP. Matters relating to the transfer of ownership by UNDP shall be determined in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures of UNDP,” the report said.

The COA explained, the partnership also appeared to be disadvantageous to the government, since it cost the government some P1.36 billion, adding that about 92 percent or P1.26 billion had already been transferred to the UNDP.

“The contribution of P1,362,084,618.28 by the DICT constitutes [a] donation to UNDP. And because the funds are now part of the UNDP’s financial resources and its assets … it appears now that the Pipol Konek becomes entirely a project of the UNDP and not of the DICT,” the COA said.

The state audit body chided the DICT for entering into the agreement, especially since it appeared that there was “[no] empirical data that DICT lacks the capacity to undertake the specific procurement project.”

The COA added that the DICT did not even take the time to show any comparison of costs and benefits, quantitatively and qualitatively, in case the project would be implemented by the department alone.

“There were no statistics presented and documents submitted showing UNDP’s capability to deliver the project in an efficient, economical and timely manner,” the COA said.

The audit body also called out the DICT for binding the government to the possibility of having to provide UNDP additional funds in case of unforeseen circumstances.

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The COA has ordered DICT officials to explain the terms of the agreement and its timetable.

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TAGS: DICT, Pipol Konek, UNDP, Wi-Fi programs
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