Palace, DBM downplay Andaya claim on payables to contractors

The Palace on Monday shrugged off the claim of House appropriations committee chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. that the government failed to pay several contractors more than P100 billion last year due to a “corrupt system” within the Department of Budget and Management.

On Friday, Andaya said the government still owes P100 billion to private contractors who did work for the Department of Public Works and Highways. He said this failure would discourage potential contractors from participating in the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

This gargantuan amount of payables has reincarnated an old system that forces [public works] contractors to cough up kickbacks just to be paid for completed infrastructure projects,” Andaya said in a statement.

He said “concerned employees” from the DPWH and DBM told him that the total amount of still unpaid contracts for public works projects in 2018 increased from P44 billion in November to more than P100 billion at the end of the year.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, said Andaya was “unclear” with his claim and said there was no logic in congressman’s allegation.

READ: Payables spurred kickbacks—Andaya

“Why would the government owe the contractors because of corruption? It seems there are no connection,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

“There would be corruption if the contractors are being bribed. But the government owing them money, I don’t know how, there’s no connection. If they were not paid enough, then maybe the projects were incomplete, that might be the reason there,” he added.Asked if the Palace will look into Andaya’s allegations, Panelo said that the contractors involved should file their complaints.

“Congressman Andaya cannot be lawyering for these contractors. If the contractors have something to complain [about], they should, themselves, file the complaint and address their concerns to the respective department or to Department of Public Works,” he said.

“If they were not even complaining in the first place, then why would…How can you be more popish than the Pope?”

The DBM issued a statement on Andaya’s claim, saying that the Budget department was “not aware as to how the P100 billion in (accounts payable) have been arrived at since books of accounts have not yet been closed.”

“Notices of Cash Allocation, or NCAs, are issued based on the submitted list of due and demandable accounts payable (APs) of the DPWH. For this year, we have already released a total of P64 billion for APs of the DPWH,” said the statement prepared by Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda.

“Under a reenacted budget, 25 percent of funds for personnel services, maintenance, and other operating expenses, and capital outlays may be obligated. Amounts corresponding to salaries for their casual employees is included in this authority. It is now up to the DPWH to resolve this matter.”

The DPWH has yet to issue a statement.

READ: ‘Diokno budget plan messy’

Topics: Rolando Andaya Jr. , Department of Budget and Management , Department of Public Works and Highways , 'Build , Build , Build infrastructure program' , Salvador Panelo
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