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COA reveals DICT's PHP 170 million expenditure in gadgets from construction firm

After the viral news about the PHP 700K laptop budget of the DOH, the COA also revealed that the DICT spent PHP 170 million on gadgets too. Read on!
COA reveals DICT's PHP 170 million expenditure in gadgets from construction firm
The COA questions DICT's gadget purchases

COA questions DICT's PHP 170 million budget on gadgets

The Commission on Audit released a report last August 13 where it stated that the Department of Information and Communication Technology spent PHP 170 million on gadgets. These gadgets were bought from construction that deemed the purchases outside of the DICT's mandate.

The gadgets in question included 1,000 laptops, 26,500 tablets, and 1,001 pocket wifi dongles from the firm. The BIR chimed in on the issue stating that the firm involved deals in general construction. In addition, the audit revealed that the supplier called Lex-Mar General Merchandise and Contractor had assets amounting to PHP 44,578,450 only as of December 2019. The deal with the DICT is four times the value of the supplier.

The purchases were also deemed to be outside of the DICT's mandate which is to formulate and implement policies and initiatives. Here is COA's statement:

While we sympathize with the plight of learners and teachers in this time of distance learning or online classes, a donation of government property, such as in this case, may be considered as illegal expenditure.

Upon further investigation, the COA said the procurement took three separate contracts which were classified as "negotiated procurement — emergency cases". This means no competitive public bidding took place.

The laptops are said to be given to public school teachers in San Juan City. Meanwhile, the tablets went to students in Makati and San Juan.

Here is the breakdown of the expenditure:

First contract - PHP 50.773 million
Laptops x 1,000 - PHP 40,600 each
Tablets x 1,500 - PHP 4,780 each
Pocket WiFi Dongle x 1,001 - PHP 3,000 each

Second contract - PHP 29.875 million
Tablets x 6,250 - PHP 4,780 each

Third contract - PHP 89.625 million
Tablets x 18,750 - PHP 4,780 each

Furthermore, Lex-Mar did not have salaries expense included in its financial statements. This begs the question of how the company was able to provide services in the purchase order that include technical support, online help, hotline service, and an offline service center. Its BIR Certificate of Registration and Permit to Operate does not classify the company as an ICT device supplier.

The DICT justified the deal by saying that it was an effort to fast-track the implementation of its pilot project for digital learners and digital teachers. It was also stated to be part of the government's effort to respond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What do you guys think?

Source: Rappler

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