GRACE POE ON PUBLIC BIDDING

I welcome the initiative, expertise and participation of the private sector in submitting unsolicited proposals for big ticket items. On this however, I hope the government would observe a fair and reasonable swiss challenge procedure to get the best offer from other qualified contractors and eliminate the very same problem of collusion that has become commonplace in publicly bidded projects that the President seeks to eliminate.

The rationale of a stringent procurement law is to prevent corruption and enable the government to get the most bang for the buck. Unfortunately, our current laws have not effectively prevented corruption, instead, it only slowed down many legitimate projects. Who says procurement regulations must remain static? They should be constantly improved in the execution level, by harnessing best practice experiences and again transparency. The solution is to cut the red tape in the bidding for government projects. We should also ensure that the entire system will remain transparent.

Let us find ways to shorten the process, we can even short-circuit the regulations to eliminate opportunities for corruption, for as long as this will not leave the people shortchanged with substandard projects. That should be the bottomline.

This culture of constant innovation is also enshrined in the Anti Red Tape Act of 2007, which requires agencies to periodically measure the speed of service, and remove obstacles that cause delay.

In their appearances before the Senate, both public and private officers have cited causes of delay outside procurement, from permitting issues to the cumbersome procedures in getting clearances from government regulators.

Many of these complaints have been acted upon in the policy level. For example, in the telecoms sector, there are faster benchmarks in permit approvals. The question is, are these being followed.

The new TRAIN law had also addressed complaints by businessmen, big and small alike, by cutting BIR requirements, forms, and procedures.

Finally, I support any move to collar and punish unscrupulous public officials who rig or tailor-fit bidding terms of reference for every project to favor contractors, as well as those other public works carpetbaggers who cause undue delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects by tendering ridiculously low bids, only to sell contracts won to legitimate bidders.

Let us prioritize the removal of bottleneck in the bidding process because, as they say, we can only build, build, build, if we can bid, bid, bid.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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