Procurement law may hamper bid to buy vaccines

Share this information:

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) finds the existing procurement law as the standing block to the government’s bid to buy sufficient vaccines to inoculate Filipinos against the highly-infectious virus from Wuhan, China.

In a statement sent via email to reporters, the DBM hinted that both national and local governments may actually find it difficult to purchase COVID-19 vaccines because provisions of the procurement law does not allow disbursement of funds beyond 15 percent of the actual contract price for supplies that have yet to be delivered.

As such, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado cited the need to increase the 15-percent limitation on advance payments on the contract amount for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

“This will ensure the timely and efficient implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination plan,” Avisado said in a statement.

Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act prescribes that advance payment should not exceed 15 percent of the contract amount, unless otherwise directed by the President.

Likewise, under Memorandum Order No. 172, s. 2005 only allows up to 15 percent advance payment of the contract cost for “the procurement of goods required to address contingencies arising from natural or man-made calamities in areas where a ‘State of Calamity’ has been declared by appropriate authorities.”

The Budget chief said the government is currently experiencing difficulties in negotiating with various pharmaceutical companies due to the limitations imposed under existing laws.

“Currently, puwede ka lang magbayad o mag advance payment hanggang 15%… Ang gusto ng mga pharmaceutical industries, bayaran mo na… I-a-advance mo na ang payment bago ma-ideliver… In other words, talagang tatalunin tayo ng mga mayayamang bansa,” Avisado said.

Several Metro Manila mayors have expressed worry that their COVID-19 procurement plans could be hampered by limitations in the law.

Earlier, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco filed a bill seeking to expedite the purchase and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by allowing localities to directly purchase from manufacturers without going through the process of public bidding.

House Bill 8648 or the proposed Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021 aims to provide exemptions to compliance by local government units with the procurement requirements under RA 9184.

Velasco said the bill will authorize LGUs to engage in an advance payment mechanism for purposes of procuring COVID-19 vaccines from foreign manufacturers.

This will also let provinces, cities and municipalities make advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the procurement of the vaccines, unless otherwise directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Amid the predicament, Avisado urged the public to be more patient over the vaccine procurement process.

Avisado noted that the government cannot divulge specific details on its negotiations with pharmaceutical companies—such as prices and the manners of delivery—as both parties are bound by a confidentiality agreement.

However, he assured that all of the transactions made by the government remain legitimate and honest.

The government is also committed to ensure the safe and timely procurement, transportation, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines despite all of the limitations and challenges, he said.

“Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon naman ang ating pamahalaan na makalap muna at makakuha ng vaccine. Kasi hindi pa man nangyayari yan, ay katakot-takot na batikos ang naririnig natin, meron po mga pamamaraan diyan, kung saan makikita’t makikita natin kung meron talagang kalokohan,” Avisado said.

He added that the budget for vaccines has been allocated and is now ready for release.

He also welcomed and acknowledged the efforts of various local government units across the country for complementing and cooperating with the national government in its efforts to secure the much-needed vaccines.

“Meron tayong pondo dyan…. P82.5 billion ang inilaan ng ating pamahalaan. Wag po tayong mag worry. Nakikipagtulungan ang mga local government units natin at sila din ay handa na bumili sa abot ng kanilang makakaya. We appreciate that very much po,” Avisado said.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.