Lower house OKs 'transparency bill'

Lower house OKs 'transparency bill'
SunStar Local News GPX

A BILL for more “dynamic and transparent” measures in the government’s procurement process, including mandatory video recording, has been approved by the House of Representatives on its third and final reading.

Mandaue Lone District Repre­sentative Emmarie “Lolypop” Ou­ano-Dizon said House Bill 9648, which she co-authored to revise the Government Procurement Act, was approved Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023.

Dizon explained the amendments would ensure the procurement process will be more transparent, cost-effective, and efficient.

Among the salient new provisions of the bill are the following: Shortening the period between opening the bids to awarding of the infrastructure projects from 90 to 60 days, opening contracting standards to all who wish to participate instead of limiting it to private firms, mandating at least one video recording of all procurement-related conferences and the retention of copies in storage for 12 years for the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPBB), Commission on Audit (COA), and the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

The bill also seeks to improve the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGeps) which provides online access to government procurement opportunities and services.

The proposed law highlights the importance of an E-Procurement System that provides a single portal through PhilGeps as primary source of information by all procuring entities and the public, instead of manually checking or verifying documents from the Department of Trade and Industry Philippine Contractor’s Accreditation Board (PCAB) license contractor performance, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

HB 9648 also seeks an option for contracts involving agencies that procure goods such as food, rice, and canned goods for disaster emergencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Under the bill, agencies like the DSWD must not pay ahead of the actual procurement but instead, have the option to call off the purchase within a year, to allow multiple delivery dates of the prime commodities depending on the actual need. This way, the agency will not have to hold excess stock on site but only when such is required.

The bill also calls for increased honoraria for BAC and support staff members from 25 to 30 percent of their basic monthly salary and the institutionalization of their legal and medical assistance with an indemnification package.

The bill has been transmitted to the Senate for approval and then to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for signature, said Dizon. (with PR)


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