THE supplier of the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines warned Friday that the P7.2-billion contract they signed with the poll body will likely be adjusted.

The adjustment, however, will be made if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will not be able to supply to the PCOS machine providers the needed data for the customization of the machines next week.

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Cesar Flores, Asia Pacific president of Barbados-based Smartmatic Corp., issued this statement as he revealed that next week would be a “critical period” for them.

“We need to receive all the data from Comelec next week, meaning the precincts, the candidates list, etc., then we get into trouble, because if we don’t receive that data we cannot finalize the software and basically there will be delay,” Flores told reporters in a news conference.

He explained that before installing the final software, the lists and other pertinent data should be given to them so they can configure each machine.

He added: “If we don’t get the data that will delay the production and if we don’t produce (on time) basically maybe will have more production line parallel increase (in cost).”

The Smartmatic official said the delays would force them to hire additional manpower and this would definitely entail additional cost that could result in the increase of the P7.2 billion total contract price for the lease purchase of the more than 82,000 machines for the May 2010 elections.

He said they need to program the machines by April 22.

The Comelec earlier said they will release the final list of candidates early this month, but due to oppositions and petitions filed they failed to come up with the final list.

Smartmatic, meanwhile, assured that they are on track in producing the machines.

He said about 8,000 units will arrive today, January 9, and another 10,600 are expected to be delivered next week.

All in all, Flores said, they have completed the production of 40,000 PCOS machines including the 7,320 machines that were shipped to the country last month.

He also scored their critics for blaming them on the delays of the delivery of the machines.

According to Flores, there are several factors that caused the delays in the delivery of the computers and this includes the delays in the payment.

Flores said: “We have spent almost P4 billion (but] we have just received P1.5 billion. We need cash to be able to meet all these commitments.”

Aside from the list of candidates, Smartmatic and its partner Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. also said the design for the ballot boxes is another problem that confronted them.

Flores said until this time they have not signed the contract for the ballot boxes.

They will produce 77,000 ballot boxes costing P3,150 each or a total contract price of P242.55 million.

Flores confessed that they only have two molds for the ballot boxes, adding that they need to sign the contract next week in order to produce the boxes on time.

“We are reaching a critical point that if we don’t sign that contract anytime soon meaning less than one week then well have a problem in the production of ballot box,” he lamented. “The critical points are the molds. We need to create huge molds.”

If the contract is not signed next week, Flores said: “If we don’t sign (the contract) well, most probably we'll gonna have a dramatic price increase because we need to produce more molds and the molds are very expensive.” (MSN/Sunnex)