Farmer groups and allied stakeholders on Friday slammed the decision of the Department of Agriculture to bid out the next batch of supply contracts for urea fertilizer worth more than P1.3 billion, saying these were again overpriced and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Rosendo So, chairman of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura or SINAG, said the department used the same modus when it bid out the first four supply contracts in May.
“The DA did it again! Just like what happened in May, the DA again qualified only one bidder per lot (contract/s grouped together to form one lot). And all the bid prices are again ridiculously overpriced,” So said.
The department bid out six lots for Regions 1 and 2 and North Cotabato.
The qualified bidders were Goldman’s Supply Corp. for North Cotabato at P975 per bag, First Planters Agri Solution for La Union and Ilocos Sur at P975 per bag and Pangasinan at P985 per bag, and Universal Harvester Inc. for Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino at P975 per bag.
“Our members who are distributors and outlet owners have informed us that the retail prices in Regions 1 and 2 are far lower than the DA’s price report,” So said.
“Universal Harvester Inc., which won the contracts for Region 2, bid out for a retail price of only P860 per bag, and in some areas for as low as P850 per bag. Did the DA fail to monitor this, that it awarded the contract for P975 per bag? That amounts to a P125 overprice per bag of fertilizer.”
So says with the allocation of 797,089 bags of urea fertilizer for Region 1 and 614,233 bags for Region 2, or a total of 1,411,322 bag, the overpricing translated to P176.41 million, which could still be used to procure more farm inputs.
Universal Harvester, in a previous bid when the process was still being conducted at the regional level early this year, tendered offers of P830 and P850 per bag.
It was disqualified despite the low bid, but was qualified when it raised its bid to P975, So said.
Funding for the supply contracts came from the department’s stimulus program Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Kontra COVID-19 (ALPAS sa COVID-19), which allocated P5.69 billion for urea fertilizers at a ceiling of P1,000 per bag.
Suppliers La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation and Atlas Fertilizer bagged the initial four contracts amounting to P1.8 billion for Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Central Visayas in May.
The first four contracts, allegedly overpriced, prompted some lawmakers to file a resolution before the House of Representatives seeking to probe the transactions.
“The DA must have the sense to put on hold and/or suspend the succeeding bidding for the procurement of an additional P3.8 billion worth of fertilizer until the questionable bidding and procurement of the P1.8-billion fertilizers is given clarity,” the lawmakers said in House Resolution 992.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas echoed the sentiment: “The next bidding must be put on hold until this matter on the P1.8-billion fertilizer contracts is resolved.”