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Saturday, February 24, 2024

PS-DBM open to return P3 billion invested in banks to Treasury

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The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) has expressed its intention to return to the state treasury over P3 billion in high-yield investments in government banks, which was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) as unauthorized.

In a statement, PS-DBM Executive Director Dennis Santiago said: “The amount of P3 billion is intact.”

“I am for the return of the money to the National Treasury as soon as we have properly clarified the nature of the funds with COA,” Santiago said.

The COA, in a management letter to PS-DBM, ordered the agency to “immediately remit the balance of the savings” to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr).

State auditors said PS-DBM’s failure to revert the investment to the general fund of the BTr is in violation of Executive Order No. 431 dated May 30, 2004.

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Amid mounting calls to abolish the procurement service, Santiago on Tuesday appealed to Congress to give the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a chance to reform the agency.

The PS-DBM Executive Director echoed the appeal made by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman in allowing them to institute reforms.

“Please allow the new administration to reform and transform the agency and provide efficiency and economy in the acquisition of common-use supplies and equipment (CSE), which we intend to focus on as part of our mandate,” Santiago said in a statement.

On August 16, the PS-DBM suspended the procurement of non-CSE “effective immediately” as part of efforts to improve their processes.

During the suspension, the PS-DBM shall not accept new requests for non-CSE procurement until further notice.

The COA also said the PS-DBM not returning the investment is contrary to Department of Finance-DBM-COA Joint Circular No. 04-2012 dated September 11, 2012, which states that all dormant accounts, as well as unnecessary special and trust funds, shall be reverted to the general fund.

Dormant accounts refer to collections authorized by law to be deposited with an authorized government depository bank (AGDB) and have remained inactive for more than five years, the same 2012 Joint Circular also states.

The COA also noted that it is not the PS-DBM’s mandate to make investments and invest in a high-yield savings account.

Santiago said PS-DBM is already reviewing the audit observation on the high-yield savings account and shall revert to COA to address the Audit Observation Memorandum.

“To allow us to focus on the fulfillment of our primary mandate, which is to procure CSEs, I issued a directive on August 16 suspending the procurement of non-common use supplies and equipment. During the suspension, the PS-DBM shall not accept new requests for Non-CSE procurement until further notice,” he added.

PS-DBM is mandated to procure common-use office supplies, materials, and equipment such as, but not limited to, ballpens, papers, staplers, paper clips, folders, and the like for all government agencies.

The PS-DBM is once again in the spotlight due to its flagged procurement of laptops for the Department of Education (DepEd) for the implementation of distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The procurement agency was also linked to alleged irregularities surrounding the purchase of face masks, face shields, and other pandemic supplies with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. in 2020.

PS-DBM has sought the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) assistance in investigating the acquisition of laptops for the DepEd.

“The PS-DBM can do a lot of good by purchasing good quality products that are regularly used by government agencies,” Santiago said.

He explained that the procurement arm’s mandate of making bulk purchases is beneficial because it would guarantee cheaper prices and influence the production of quality equipment. It will also allow agencies to focus on their respective projects, programs, and activities.

Santiago reiterated his call for lawmakers to be “tempered with understanding,” noting that many dedicated and well-meaning employees have ably served PS-DBM for many decades now.

“Allow us to fix and clean up the systems and processes here. We want to bring back to PS-DBM its old glory. Above all, we want to restore your trust and confidence in PS-DBM,” he said

He also acknowledged the sentiment of groups and lawmakers, saying he shared their clamor for “zero tolerance” against irregularities in government.

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