Cut corruption at the root like a hydra
The corruption problems that hound the bureaucracy sprout like the multiheaded hydra, a pest water organism that thrives indefinitely in water until the roots that nurture them are cut off.
The multiheaded problems we find surfacing every now and then seem endless: 1) Price of sugar going up to as high as P100 a kilo, never been experienced or imagined, resulting in a hasty unauthorized importation. Why?; 2) Billions of anti-COVID emergency funds sopped up by a small pharmaceutical company, capitalized at only a few hundred thousand pesos, and delivering substandard health supplies; 3) The Department of Education’s overpriced laptops costing billions of pesos of taxpayer money; 4) Billions more lost in PhilHealth, in the widespread conspiracy from top to bottom. What more of such surprises can the nation withstand?
Funds were sourced through piled-up government debt—yours and mine—that each Filipino still alive for a couple of generations will be scrounging for money to pay, to avoid default and suffer the shameful status of being a pariah to international lenders. Can’t something be done to stop this hydra?
Those of us who have familiarity with and have designed financial control systems know that internal control is key to a well-run organization, requiring little management intervention in the operational system. We propose this simple suggestion for the economic managers to consider in their priorities: focus on the government’s procurement procedure.
Simplifying the system of procurement, the inviting area where most if not all funds ebb and flow, needs simplification. All that’s needed is a short and straight line drawn from point A, or the time the need to procure arises, to point B, when the goods or services are to be delivered and authorized for payment.
All the critical approvals: competent review, evaluation, validation, and bidding will have to be done in point A. Any contrived myriad of procedures coming in between the two critical points are unnecessary. If they’re required in voluminous written manuals, unless urgently justified, they should all take the exit door and best thrown out; they often provide easy opportunities for the unscrupulous to milk funds out and perpetuate the corruption hydra.
Marvel K. Tan, Quezon City
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