The Philippines could be receiving up to $35,000 (nearly P2 million at current exchange rate) in funding to improve the state’s procurement services and ensure that taxpayers’ money are used properly, according to an attached agency of the budget department.
The Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) disclosed that its collaboration with WeSolve Foundation Philippines (WeSolve PH) was selected among the 10 “outstanding teams” that gained financial support and training from the Open Contracting Partnership (OPC).
The support is being made under OPC’s Lift impact accelerator program that aims to “create fair, inclusive and greener communities” through advancement of procurement reforms.
“Of the 150 proposals from 70 countries worldwide, the Philippines joins Brazil, Chile, Lithuania, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States in this year’s list of grantees eligible to receive financial support and tailored technical assistance from OCP,” the PS-DBM said in a recent statement.
“The Philippine team, represented by PS-DBM and WeSolve PH, aims to increase transparency and accountability around government purchases and improve value for taxpayer money,” the PS-DBM added.
The PS-DBM said they applied for the Lift program to “improve” its public integrity and anti-corruption initiatives after the agency was marred by corruption allegations at the height of Covid-19 pandemic.
“When the Lift applications opened in March 2023, OCP simply posed this question: How can open contracting be used to (i) fight corruption and strengthen democratic institutions; (ii) protect the environment or improve climate resilience; and (iii) promote economic and social inclusion?” it said.
“Due to the controversies that hounded PS-DBM at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, including alleged anomalies in the procurement of personal protective equipment for health-care workers and laptops for teachers, the Philippine team zeroes in on improving public integrity and anti-corruption initiatives,” it added.
The PS-DBM and WeSolve PH are planning to “institute” so-called “transformational” reforms and policies in the state that would address the gaps in the state’s current procurement process with the goal of preventing “alleged anomalous and irregular transactions from happening again.”
The solutions proposed by the Philippine team include the adoption of best practices in identifying red flags for corruption, improvement of market price analysis and developing cost estimates, and improvement in packaging or unbundling contracts, according to the PS-DBM.
“Apart from problem identification, solution overview, potential impacts, and challenges, the presenters also elaborated on how OCP through the Lift program will aid in the attainment of goals by providing financial and technical assistance, communicating experience and lessons with international audiences, and building public support and trust for the incumbent leadership and management,” it added.
In a separate statement, OPC said the chosen teams would receive up to $35,000 of financial support and about 200 hours of “tailored” technical assistance on improving their state’s procurement system.
“Over the next 18 months, the Open Contracting Partnership will support the selected teams as they open and strengthen their procurement systems and build their capacity to deliver on their goals,” the OPC said.
The PS-DBM earlier disclosed that it is implementing reforms to improve its services following the procurement issues, particularly of Covid-19 pandemic supplies, it faced in recent years. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2023/08/18/ps-dbm-no-ncse-deals-until-reforms-done/) Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas