Buy Filipino policy in national budget to give local firms first crack at P400B worth of contracts

Filipino companies will have the first crack  in bidding for at least P400 billion worth of supplies and equipment for projects that the national government will procure next  year.

House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said that a “Buy Filipino” provision in  the 2013 national budget gives preference  to domestic groups in government  tenders for  goods and services.

Tañada said that a “fine print”  in the  P2 trillion spending bill reiterates  “the long standing policy to observe the Flag Law, or Commonwealth Act  138, when it comes to government purchases.”

The law directs government agencies to give preference to “native companies and products  when purchasing articles,” Tañada explained.

The three-term Quezon lawmaker,  however, added  that  “the preference is not absolute and is subject to limitations.”

“For example, the bidder must still comply with the Government Procurement Reform Act ,  meaning pricing and quality must be met and never relaxed on account that the product sought to be purchased is of local origin“ he said.

“This means too that an inferior, substandard  locally-made product cannot  triumph over a foreign-made one.  You also don’t buy a more expensive product simply because it is wrapped in Philippine flag, “he said.

Also exempted, Tañada added, “are purchases under foreign sales agreements, heavy equipment imports for infrastructure  projects and other importations of agencies financed by foreign  borrowings.”

For next year, Tañada computes that some P400 billion worth of MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) items, like office supplies, and  capital outlays, including infrastructure, will be
bought by the government.

Topping the government’s shopping list  is P223 billion worth of roads, bridges, classrooms and other public  works.

It will also need P53.4  billion worth  of  “supplies and materials”, mostly  office supplies, textbooks, and  “fuel ,oil and lubricants.”

Repair and maintenance of government assets such as vehicles and building have also been provided with a P21 billion allocation under the 2013 national budget

Government agencies will also bid out contracts for janitorial, security, and other professional services estimated at  P31.7 billion.

Tañada said the national budget’s “Buy Filipino” policy is expected to help local firms, especially small and medium enterprises.

But for a “domestic entity to claim preference”,  it must first secure from the Department of Trade and Industry a  “certification  that it has met all the qualifications required under  the Flag Law  and  the
Government Procurement Reform Act Law .”

The DTI must also certify that the goods forming part of its bid are substantially composed of articles materials or supplies grown, produced or manufactured in the Philippines , Tañada explained