COA casts doubt on CamSur supplier with P134M contracts
by Allan Yves Briones
The Commission on Audit (COA) expressed concern over the validity of the procurement process of the provincial government of Camarines Sur which allowed a single supplier to maintain a smorgasbord of contracts totaling P134.74 million.
State auditors revealed that after conducting ocular inspections, they found that Artvil General Merchandise, the provincial government’s supplier of choice, did not have adequate storage space, nor a place of business.
“(During the inspections) at the registered business address, it was found that there is no existing business establishment in the name of Artvil General Merchandise,” COA stated in the 2018 annual audit report.
Instead, local residents reportedly confirmed that there was store previously located on the address, but it has been closed for a long time.
According to state auditors, to handle the magnitude of the contracts it has been awarded, Artvil is expected to have a huge storage facility to house all the materials, especially food items.
Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Province of Camarines Sur
In 2018, the provincial government reportedly procured P63.19 million in noodles, sardines and corned beef which would require a wide storage with proper ventilation and security to avoid spoilage.
Camarines Sur officials explained, as stated in the report, that the goods were delivered from the manufacturer directly to the province’s warehouses.
Still, state auditors argued that contracting with the manufacturer directly would’ve been more cost beneficial – which could’ve been accomplished if the posting of the bids by the provincial government had been timely.
“The number of days of delay between the failure to post in the local website and the posting in the PhilGEPS a few days later…may cause undue disadvantage to prospective suppliers who may want to bid,” COA said.
Also in the report, the head of the Bids and Awards Committee defended the contracts, stating that they are fully compliant with procurement law, and the number of interested suppliers is outside of their control.
In their rejoinder, the state auditing agency pointed out neither was there an instance where Artvil was the lone supplier, nor is bidding the end all be all; post qualification should have been in place to verify the contractor’s capacity.
COA ordered local officials to conduct ocular inspections of their own, and ensure that equal opportunity is protected during the local procurement process.