Marcos questions advance payments for vaccines

 Senator Imee R. Marcos expressed surprise on Monday that  advance payments for government purchases such as the impending procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for 2021 are allowed.

Senator Imee R. Marcos
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Because of this, Marcos urged her colleagues to pass a bill that would amend the current Procurement Law to avoid confusion at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department on Health (DOH), local government units (LGUs) and other agencies.

The lady senator’s pitch for amendment to the Procurement Law followed her questions fielded at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) during a public hearing today on the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) by the Senate finance sub-committee.

Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, wanted to know whether an advance payment does not violate the law.

These agencies, according to Marcos, do not know that this procedure is available to them.

The Procurement Law strongly states the use of public biddings in government purchases.

The DOH set aside P2.4 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines under its proposed 2021 budget.

Marcos, vice chairwoman of the Senate finance sub-committee, said a slew of bills had been filed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and had been discussed at both Legislative chambers but the DBM has yet to submit its position paper on the issue.  

Marcos said she is concerned about a DOH statement that advance payment for the purchase for the COVI0-19 is required.

The GPPB said advance payment is allowed by Commission on Audit (COA) rules.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had said that the P2.4 billion could still be augmented once the cost of vaccines is released by manufacturers.

The DOH is looking at 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 20 percent  of the country’s more  than 100 million population.