Watchdog wants gov’t probe on P3.85B LTO license-plate contract
MANILA, Philippines—An anti-corruption watchdog asked the government to investigate the P3.85-billion contract for vehicle license plates by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
In a letter, the Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines’ Leon Peralta also called on the government particularly Government Procurement Policy Board Executive Director Ruby U. Alvarez to blacklist German firm Utsch and to prevent the firm from conducting further business in the country.
Utsch, a German firm got the contract for the license plates. However, the group said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) made the decision without prior consultation with the LTO.
Under the contract, the method to be used for the license plates is the hot stamping technology, which, the group said is “an antiquated technology for motor vehicle plates” and there is a worldwide trend against its continued use.
“A further review of the Bid Documents shows that the technical specifications embedded in the Terms of Reference (TOR), appear to have been configured specifically for Utsch.
The group added that Utsch has been involved in a number of high profile corruption cases involving bribery to government officials in exchange for the contract to produce motor vehicle plates.
In 2011 for instance, Utsch’s chief executive Helmut Jungbluth, was convicted by an Egyptian court and sentenced in absentia to a year’s jail over a contract with the former Mubarak government.
At least two (2) former Egyptian ministers and ex-prime minister Ahmed Nazif were sentenced to prison on charges of squandering public funds.
The news article reported that “Nazif, former interior minister Habib al-Adli and former finance minister Youssef Boutrous-Ghali were accused of granting a contract of license plates to German company Utsch through direct order above market prices, thus violating laws related to tenders and auctions. They were together fined about 200 million Egyptian pounds (33.5 million dollars).
Boutrous-Ghali, whose location remains unknown, was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison. Last month, he was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison on corruption charges. Al-Adli received a five-year sentence. He is already serving a 12-year sentence on separate charges of embezzlement.
Nazif got a one-year suspended term in jail. Helmut Jungbluth, the chief executive of Utsch, was sentenced in absentia to one year in jail.
“It is extremely alarming that despite numerous presentations made by various technology providers on the most advanced plate making technologies, and despite widespread knowledge of the trend against the hot stamping technology, the DoTC BAC, apparently without prior consultation with the LTO, unilaterally adopted the hot stamping technology,” the group said.
The group is requesting that the DoTC Bids and Awards Committee be investigated on how they arrived at the Terms of Reference, and specifically determining the individual or individuals who crafted the document.
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