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Over P2-B savings from purchase of COVID-19 supplies left unused

To be reverted back to National Treasury
/ 12:30 PM August 20, 2021
Facade of the DOH main office in Manila. INQUIRER.net file photo

Facade of the DOH main office in Manila. INQUIRER.net file photo

MANILA, Philippines — The national government apparently saved P2 billion from the purchase of COVID-19 supplies, which prompted lawmakers to ask: “Where did it go?”

During the hearing of the House committee on public accounts, it was found that the savings are to be reverted back to the National Treasury after being left unused.

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It was Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate who inquired about the Department of Health’s (DOH) P42 billion-worth of funds transfer to the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM), which was recently flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) over the lack of memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Quizzed by Zarate, DOH director Rowena Lora confirmed there were savings generated from the supplies procurement of the PS-DBM but said that the health department is “still reconciling our accounts with them.”

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DOH’s procurement service director Paul Guimbarda said the health department transferred P41.463 billion to the PS-DBM for the procurement of the supplies. Of this amount, he said payments that were made by the PS-DBM to the suppliers reached P39.393 billion, yielding a savings of P2.07 billion.

“Kanino napunta ang savings na ito? Saan napunta ang savings na ito?” Zarate said.

Rep. Bonito Singson, who chairs the House committee, likewise raised concerns over where the savings went.

“‘Yung savings na ‘yun those should be credited to the DOH funds kung savings. Kung hindi, ano na ang nangyari sa savings na ‘yan sa DBM?” Singson asked.

PS-DBM Jasonmer Uayan initially said savings generated from the procurement of the COVID-19 supplies were credited to the account of the DOH and the health department can make requests for additional purchases.

Further pressed by Zarate, Uayan clarified that the funds are now up for reversion to the National Treasury since its validity had already lapsed as it is a part of the 2020 national budget.

“The P2 billion funds is actually for reversion to the Bureau of Treasury considering the validity of these funds lapsed,” Uayan said.

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But there seemed to be confusion between the DBM and the DOH on how the funds will be used, with Health Secretary Francisco Duque saying the savings will be used for continuing procurement of supplies.

“Our thinking is that whatever savings the PS-DBM had generated was going to be used for continuing procurement of supplies. The pandemic is continuing,” Duque said.

“So maybe our good director who is relatively new might have to look into the possibility that they actually could be using those funds on the continuing procurement basis,” he added.

Zarate lamented this, saying the funds could have been used for other purposes, such as the provision of allowances for healthcare workers.

/MUF

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