The Department of Agriculture (DA) has assured the public that the bidding for fertilizer supply contracts under its COVID-19 assistance program was above board—this after some farmers in Central Luzon claimed that the distributed fertilizers were overpriced.
At a briefing on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the Urea fertilizers bought by the DA were “a lot cheaper” compared to previous purchases ranging from P1,300 to P1,500 per 50-kilogram bag
“I can personally vouch for the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the procurement process that the DA-BAC (DA Bids and Awards Committee) has exercised for these fertilizers. Guided by our legal office and in constant consultation with the GPPB (Government Procurement Policy Board), we made sure we followed to the [letter] the prescribed procurement procedure as required by law,” the secretary said.
Under the fertilizer program, the agency bought 1.81 million bags of Urea fertilizer at P1,035.60 each from April 27 to May 1; P1,037.54 from May 4 to May 8; and P1,040.68 each from May 11 to 15. The procured volume accounts for four of the 16 lots for wet season 2020 cropping.
However, some farmers said that the average retail price of the fertilizer variant was only P850 per bag. Based on latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), however, the average rate was at P1,121 a sack. The data was last updated in December last year.
Dar added that the agency had been transparent with its fertilizer purchases because the program might be used “to stir false information against the government.” He also asked the public to “help us look even closer to ensure that every peso we allot is going to where it should be spent.”
In a statement, the DA said it conducted a series of negotiated procurements that attracted fertilizer distributors starting on April 29 for the purchase of 5.7 million fertilizer bags.
It added that the approved budget for the contract went through a series of consultations with various players in the fertilizer industry, and was also based on the recommendation of DA’s attached agency Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA). The price was based on a four-month trend monitored by FPA and PSA.
So far, it issued purchase orders to two winning fertilizers companies, namely La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp. and Atlas Fertilizer. The procurement process for the remaining 12 lots is ongoing.
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