President Duterte has “no issue” in the funds given to the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) for government purchases but the economic team is still expected to review the pending projects, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the funds in the state corporation are not necessarily sitting idle but are merely in different stages of procurement of goods.
PITC, an attached corporation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), handles the procurement of goods and services for state agencies.
“Pag-usapan naman natin po ang isyu ng PITC: Alam ninyo po ang sabi ng Presidente, wala naman pong isyu diyan. Eh ano kung 33 billion iyong nakabinbin? (Let’s talk about the issue on PITC. You know the President said there is no issue there. So what if P33 billion is pending there?)” Roque said during a televised press briefing.
“Pero iyong 33 billion, hindi po ibig sabihin na idle lang po iyan, iyan po ay undergoing different stages of procurement (It does not mean the P33 billion are idle. The funds are undergoing different stages of procurement),” he said.
Roque said in the meeting with President Duterte Monday night, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana mentioned the defense department has allowed P11 billion to PITC for a number of procurement projects, which are in various stages of bidding.
According to Roque, the trade, finance and budget departments are expected to scrutinize the status of procurement projects pending at the PITC.
“Makikipag-ugnayan po ang DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) at saka ang DOF (Department of Finance) at kasama na rin po ang DBM (Department of Budget and Management), iisa-isahin po iyong mga pondo na ibinigay sa PITC at aalamin kung alin doon ang tuloy pang proyekto at hindi (The DTI will coordinate with DOF and DBM to check the funds given to PITC and determine which projects will be continued or not),” he said.
“Iyong mga hindi na tuloy na proyekto, iyan po iyong ibabalik ng mga ahensiya nagbigay ng pondo sa PITC sa national treasurer nang magamit po ng Presidente sa ibang pamamaraan (For the discontinued projects, the agencies will give back funds to the national treasurer so the President can use it for other purposes),” he added.
The finance department recently directed the DTI to return interest income of the PITC to the Bureau of Treasury to augment the government’s coronavirus response.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier expressed concern about the P33 billion in “parked” funds in the government’s trading firm. He claimed that the PITC short-changed the government by around P1 billion in interest income that it should have remitted to the national coffers.