DA exec retracts claim: Tractors not overpriced
MANILA, Philippines — The head of a research institute under the Department of Agriculture (DA) has retracted his earlier statement that claimed “irregularities” in the agency’s purchase of farm vehicles last year.
In that statement, which was sent to reporters on Monday, Director Dionisio Alvindia of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) said the previous management bought 1,346 four-wheel tractors for a total cost of P1.75 billion, or about P1.3 million per vehicle.
“However, PHilMech discovered the price for each four-wheel farm tractor should have been set at a maximum of P1.2 million, reflecting an overprice,” Alvindia said.
But facing the media at an online briefing on Friday, however, Alvindia read a new statement stressing “there was no corruption committed” in the procurement and that the estimated P1.3 million spent for each tractor was “not overpriced.”
“I stand … corrected and I apologize for this,’’ he said. “This issue became big because you didn’t ask how it started.”
Alvindia said the P1.3-million price tag for each tractor included P98,000 that covered the cost of hydraulic ports as an additional upgrade for the vehicles.
Those fittings, he said, would make the tractors adaptable to other farming activities besides “land preparation.” It was the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering which recommended the inclusion of the hydraulic ports, he added.
The cost of the added implements, as provided for each of the 1,346 tractors, totaled P131.9 million. This drove up the price of each vehicle higher than the P1.2 million approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Alvindia said.
But while ruling out any overprice, he said still there “was negligence on the part of the [previous] management because they failed to seek the approval of the DBM for the adjusted price before proceeding with the proper purchase of the equipment.”
“PHilMech’s mistake was that … the DBM’s approval should have been sought to adjust the original approved [price] of P1.2 million to P1.3 million,” Alvindia said. No payments yet
Despite his assertion now that no corruption was involved, he said the DA’s legal department was looking into the purchase of the tractors, and that PHilMech was also awaiting the legal advice of the DBM and the Commission on Audit.
PHilMech will release its payments to the tractor suppliers after the DBM’s approval, he said.
1,346 farm tractors found to be ‘overpriced’
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