Thursday, May 19, 2005

COA official: GSIS e-Card deal illegal

By Maricel V. Cruz, MT Reporter

The Government Service Insurance System broke the law when it awarded its “e-Card” project to the Union Bank of the Philippines, an official of the Commission on Audit (COA) told a congressional inquiry Wednesday.

Leonor Boado, head of the COA special audit team, told the joint hearing of the House Committees on Good Government and on Government Enterprises that the GSIS, through its president, Winston Garcia, disregarded bidding requirements and procedures stipulated in the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184).

The project allows GSIS members to use the e-Card like an ATM card in transacting with the state pension fund.

Boado also dared Garcia to file contempt charges against her for disclosing the COA report to the public through the media. But she hastened to add that the report was recognized and affirmed by the commission and transmitted by the COA chair, Guillermo Carague, himself.

Boado said the awarding of the e-Card to Union Bank violated Sections 3 and 10 of R.A. 9184, which state that “all procurement of the national government-owned or-controlled corporations shall be done through competitive bidding.”

Boado said the GSIS management committee sent only invitations, and not a direct invitation to bid, to three government depository banks—the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine National Bank.

“The GSIS sent only verbal invitations to the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metro Bank and Equitable PCI Bank,” she said.

“The invitation, however, did not specify the approved budget for the contract, eligibility requirements, instruction to bidders, criteria for eligibility, bid evaluation, postqualification, date, time and place of prebid conference, plans and technical specification,” Boado said.

Rep. Rolex Suplico of Iloilo, Garcia’s staunch critic and an author of the resolution seeking an investigation into the e‑Card project, said the GSIS board of trustees gravely abused its discretion in giving the e‑Card to Union Bank.

Suplico has questioned the GSIS’ decision to award the GSIS e‑Card contract to Union Bank since the bank ranked 16th on the list of the largest banking companies in the country, in terms of assets

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