By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has rallied behind a bill seeking to require all government departments, offices, and agencies to establish their respective Green Public Procurement Program.
NEDA Director Nieva Natural said they threw support to House Bill No. 6526 or the proposed Green Public Procurement Act, principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte.
“We support the bill.The bill will strengthen the implementation of the roadmap with the existing Executive Order 301. We think that the law will further strengthen its implementation,” she said during the recent virtual hearing of the House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on HB 6526.
She was referring to EO No. 301 directing the establishment of a Green Procurement Program for all departments, bureaus, offices, and agencies of the Executive branch of the government. The EO was issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on March 29, 2004.
Natural asked the panel to take a second look at the provision of HB 6526 that calls for establishment of the specifications and requirements for products of services to be considered sustainably advantageous, and for the development of programs for suppliers of sustainable products and services.
“However, we need to clarify and revisit this provision including the intent to develop programs for suppliers of sustainable products and services on Section 4B. It is suggested to mandate the formulation of common or standardized procurement guidelines leading to documents and relevant technical specifications on SPP (Sustainable Procurement Program) among others instead of having separate agency programs to promote efficiency and austerity in government spending,” she said.
Natural relayed to the panel that NEDA recommended that the SPP be implemented by phases to provide leeway to the suppliers to comply with the requirements of the proposed Green Public Procurement Act.
“In addition, a phased approach to sustainable public procurement implementation should be considered since not all suppliers are ready at this time and have the capacity to comply with the bill requirements,” she said.
“It is recommended to refer to the existing Philippine Green Public Procurement Program Roadmap published by GPBB (Government Procurement Policy Board) in identifying priority item categories for the initial and succeeding phases of implementation,” she added.
The NEDA official said they support the provision of a bill that calls for adoption of lowest life-cycle cost of products and services.
“We support the intent of the bill to take into consideration the lowest life cycle product and services. However, in view of the cost of undertaking, a life cycle assessment, we deem it is necessary to clarify if the bill intends for it to be part of the minimum requirements for sustainable public procurement or other sustainability paramaters will be adopted as the criteria to assess products procured by the government,” Natural said.
Under HB 6526, the proposed Sustainable Procurement Program shall take into consideration the “lowest life-cycle cost” of products and services and include a coding system for packaging materials and products to facilitate waste recycling and reuse.
Lowest life-cycle cost means the lowest total cost of owning, operating and maintaining a product or service over its useful life, including fuel and water, energy, labor, and replacement components, determined on the basis of a systematic evaluation and comparison of alternative products and services.
During the virtual hearing, Villafuerte asked his colleagues to pass his bill, citing the need to implement such program “geared towards responsible and sustainable consumption and production with the end view of having a fully circular economy.”
“Considering that the title of the bill really and the intent is just to establish a green procurement program. Wala po itong appropriation (This does not have appropriation) , walang tax exemption (no tax exemption), it is just institutionalizing a program, walang (no) controversial provision,” he said.
“In fact, the GPPB has confirmed they already have a roadmap. I am just earnestly requesting our colleagues to approve this measure. If you will look at it is just establishing a program, institutionalizing program and the Procurement Board is more than happy to say that they are happy to institutionalize [it],” he said.
In his bill’s explanatory note, the House leader explained that under the concept of sustainable procurement or green purchasing, public organizations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that benefits not only the organization, but also society and the economy, while minimizing damage to the environment.
“Through this policy, governments can drive innovation and provide the industry with incentives to develop green products and services,” he said.
He noted that studies have shown that green public procurement may provide financial savings for government purchasers considering the full life-cycle costs of a procurement contract.
He said in Europe, public procurement criteria have already began adopting life-cycle costing or a method of considering all the costs that will be incurred during the lifetime of a procured product, work or service.
Life-cycle costs may also include the cost of externalities such as greenhouse house emissions associated with the product, he said.
“As party to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopting a sustainable public procurement legal framework concretizes the country’s commitment to the ideals of Sustainable Development Goal No. 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production,” Villafuerte said.
He said the “green purchasing” aims to promote the culture of making sustainable and informed decisions in government, especially in the purchase and use of different products.
Under HB 6526, all agencies are mandated to submit their respective Sustainable Procurement Programs to the GPPB within six months from the effectivity of the proposed Act.
Such programs will be fully implemented within six months from the effectivity of the proposed Act.
The GPPB is expected to submit a regular report to the Congress of the Philippines on the performance and compliance of the different agencies with the proposed Act.
The measure directs the GPPB to appoint a third-party verifier of claims of sustainability of products and services while establishing capacity-building program for all government agencies.
Under HB 6526, the third-party verifier shall provide a list of all certified sustainable products, which shall be updated regularly to reflect additions or deletions based on criteria to be established by the GPPB.
Within 30 days from the effectivity of the proposed Act, the GPPB shall promulgate and issue the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.