The government has launched a system dubbed Philgeps Virtual Store, through which agencies can buy supplies online and without using cash.
The service is being offered through the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System with support from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad described this as “a groundbreaking feat for the Philippine bureaucracy” considering reforms that the Aquino administration has been pushing over the last two years.
“The establishment of the e-payment system effectively brings us to the realm of cashless transactions, where procurement activities can be tracked and accounted very quickly and accurately,” Abad said.
He said the Philgeps Virtual Store would help national government agencies (NGAs) secure supplies faster, more efficiently and with greater transparency.
Republic Act No. 9184 of 2003 or the Government Procurement Reform Act mandates NGAs and state-run corporations, financial institutions, and universities and colleges as well as local government units to use Philgeps and its functionalities.
Aside from the Virtual Store, Philgeps also offers the use of an electronic bulletin board, a supplier’s registry, an electronic catalog and automatic bid notification.
Purchasing through the Virtual Store may be done at any time of the day and, combined with the other features of Philgeps, reduces the time needed to complete transactions.
“The development of this online payment facility is particularly important for liquidating expenses that are charged against public funds,” Abad said. “Because every step of the process can now be tracked and monitored, we can begin to close off all avenues for irregularity and, ultimately, estab lish better accountability across government.”
With the Philgeps e-payment facility, Landbank can now offer similar services to other government services such applications for licenses with the Land Transportation Office and for clearances with the National Bureau of Investigation.
Last September, Abad said the Philippines has gained recognition from international bodies for pursuing several transparency initiatives, particularly with respect to digital technology.
He was referring to the UN Capital Development Fund, the US Agency for International Development, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network and Visa Inc.
The Philippines is a founding member of the Better Than Cash (BTC) Alliance, which was formally launched during the forum held in New York last year.
According to the BTC Alliance website, the initiative was aimed at promoting electronic payments for programs that support people living in poverty.