Gov’t procurement reform pushed
MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Joey Salceda, the House tax chief, on Sunday said he was studying changes in the government’s procurement system after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned significant differences between retail and procurement prices of items procured by various government agencies.
Salceda said his proposal would allow government agencies “to buy at the cheapest retail prices” when bids for certain goods and services are more expensive than readily available retail prices.
During the House hearing on the COA audit report on the Department of Health, it was found that the health agency spent P11.9 million for 31 units of videoconferencing equipment, or about P380,000 for each unit, when it retails for just P120,000 each.
“The problem is that even if we can find cheaper retail prices, if the sellers don’t bid or register with the government procurement site, we can’t buy from them. It doesn’t make sense as a rule,” Salceda said in a statement.
According to him, “the only solution to a nonsensical rule is to change it.”
“We should allow certain purchases to be bought straight off retail. It’s doable to have an electronic service or program that filters for the cheapest available prices for the same required goods. Flights, hotels and even groceries already have it for the ordinary citizen. Why can’t government make use of the same?” he asked.
Salceda also said the government needed to improve the procurement service (PS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“The problem with the PS though is that it has become a middleman between agencies, instead of something like a price aggregator. It buys and sells items, instead of being more like an online shopping site for government agencies,” he said.
“If the DBM procurement service were just to follow the model that these online shopping networks already do and just allow merchants to sell goods to government agencies through the site, it would save taxpayers and agencies,” he added.
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