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DTI trading arm’s funds accounted for as Senate probe looms

TRADE SECRETARY Ramon M. Lopez said his department’s trading arm has accounted for all funds allocated to it, ahead of a possible Senate investigation into its finances.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said that he wants to investigate Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), where he said around P18 billion in taxpayer money is “parked.”

Mr. Lopez said in a briefing Monday that the agency, which is attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), observes strict procurement procedures and places its funding in escrow until the terms of its transactions are finalized. Budgets from failed auctions return to the Treasury, he added.

“In effect, wala talagang natitira na pera sa PITC dahil po all are accounted for,” he said. “Wala pong kontrobersya dito dahil tagabili lang ang PITC at nagma-manage ng bidding process (No money remains with the PITC and everything is accounted for. There is no controversy because the PITC is just the purchasing agent and manages the bidding process).”

He said some processes are delayed to the following year due to delays in evaluating technical specification evaluations, which he said happens at other agencies as well.

PITC has been assigned to import coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The agency charges a commission of between 1% and 5% from procuring government agencies.

During budget hearings of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, senators found that the PITC owed the military at least P9.6 billion.

Mr. Drilon also referred to Commission on Audit reports saying that PITC owed P9.176 billion in balances of fund transfers from government agencies from 2009-2019 that have remained unutilized.

Mr. Lopez said that PITC should explain its funding status. As of 2019, unused funds were returned to the Treasury, while ongoing procurement will continue to be processed, he said.

Money that is not returned to the Treasury translates to PITC income, he said.

Kalahati nito dini-dividend din sa government, at kalahati ay pangtustos sa operations ng PITC dahil ang PITC, walang natatanggap na budget from government. Self-sustaining siya. (Half of the income is returned to the government as dividends, and the rest sustain PITC operations. PITC receives no budget allocations as it is self-sustaining).” — Jenina P. Ibañez

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