DICT purchased PHP 170M worth of gadgets outside its mandate, says COA
The Commission on Audit (COA) said that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) purchased PHP 170 million of gadgets from a construction firm, which was outside the DICT’s mandate.
COA has recently released a report indicating that the DICT purchased 1,000 laptops, 26,500 tablets, and 1,001 pocket WiFi devices from Lex-Mar General Merchandise and Contractor.
According to the report, there is no showing both in Lex-Mar’s BIR Certificate of Registration and Permit to Operate that it is engaged in the business of supply and delivery of ICT devices such as laptops, tablets, and pocket WiFi devices. Moreover, the company’s primary purpose is to engage in the business of general construction. Consequently, COA mentioned that it is doubtful whether the supplier has the legal capacity to engage in this kind of business.
The first purchase is worth PHP 50.773 million, which includes 1,000 laptops (PHP 40,600 per unit), 1,500 tablets (PHP 4,780 per unit), and 1,001 pocket WiFi devices (PHP 3,000 per unit). DICT identified the intended beneficiaries as the “learners and teachers from Pinaglabanan Elementary School, San Juan City.”
Moreover, the second and third purchases involved 6,250 tablets worth PHP 29.875 million (PHP 4,780 per unit) and 18,750 tablets worth PHP 89.625 million (PHP 4,780 per unit). These ICT devices’ intended beneficiaries are the “City Governments of San Juan and Makati.”
Furthermore, as per COA, the DICT’s policy-making mandate does not include the authority to provide devices to the intended beneficiaries.
COA required DICT to show “Bid Evaluation and Post Qualification Report” or any similar report that shows the evaluations for determining the supplier’s technical, legal, and financial capacity. Plus, they are also urged to submit an explanation as to whether it is within the DICT’s mandate to provide ICT devices to intended beneficiaries, including the legal basis for the donation of laptops, tablets, and pocket WiFi devices to the learners and teachers.
“While we sympathize with the plight of learners and teachers in this time of distance learning or online classes, a donation of government property, such as in this case, may be considered as illegal expenditure,” said COA.