Senate asked to probe overpriced fertilizer supply

THE Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) based in Rosales town recently  asked the Senate to investigate the alleged overpriced P1.8- billion fertilizer supply contracts funded under an emergency stimulus program meant to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers.

SINAG Chairman Rosendo So said the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) supply contract for urea fertilizer was P1,000 price per bag compared to P850 average retail price.

The DA has allocated P5.69- billion for the procurement of urea fertilizer at P1,000 per bag under its stimulus program Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Kontra Covid-19 (ALPAS sa COVID-19).

The DA already bid 1.7 million bags at P995/bag, way above the prevailing retail price, So said.

“A negotiated bidding should even be lower than retail price, supposedly even lower than the P850/bag,” So said.

He said fertilizer bought by farmers would fetch for only P830 to P850/ bag.

The SINAG chair added that the DA was in fact in a position to negotiate for a cheaper price because they are dealing with importers that handle bulk orders.

In SINAG’s letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the group said the alleged overpriced contracts defeated the purpose of centralizing the bidding process that was meant to cut avenues for corruption in the department.

So also noted that prior to the ALPAS program, Dar himself opted to switch to a centralized bidding process after receiving complaints on previous winning bids that were higher than the prevailing outlet prices.

He added, “Please also note that since the bidding was a bidding of importers, the bidding price should have been much lower.”

So had called on Dar to rescind the allegedly anomalous contract, noting that the difference between the winning bids and the prevailing market price would have been enough to buy more than half a million more bags of urea fertilizer.

So warned Sinag will not hesitate to file cases if this situation is not addressed.

He said it is still within Dar’s authority to correct this growing perception that the centralization of the bidding process was to centralize corruption at the Central Office. (PhilStar Wire Service/ECV)

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