Tarnishing the image of the country anew, the World Bank recently discovered an anomaly in a road project bidding. The said bidding was allegedly rigged. Just another discouragement to foreign and local lenders who would have been interested in investing in development projects in the Philippines.
In addition, the bank blacklisted seven companies, three local and four Chinese, from having direct investments with the bank. One banned permanently.
The project involved is the National Road Improvement and Management Program Phase I or NRIMP I. Immediately after the WB discovered an anomaly it stopped a total of $33 million from being awarded to the bidders. The bank listed the following:
• Philippines-based E.C. de Luna Construction Corp. and its owner Eduardo de Luna were barred permanently, the strongest possible sanction and the first since 2004.
• Philippines’ Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp. and CM Pancho Construction, Inc. were each barred for four years.
• China Road and Bridge Corp. was barred for eight years.
• China State Construction Corp. and China Wu Yi Co. Ltd. were each barred for six years.
• China Geo-Engineering Corp. was barred for five years.
• Korean firm Dongsung Construction Co. Ltd was separately sanctioned in August 2008 for four years for fraud and corruption related to the NRIMP in the Philippines.
The World Bank however, keeps its confidence in lending to the country. The country’s WB representative, Bert Hoffman, says that the institution will continue funding NRIMP II worth $576 million and shoulders $200 million.
Despite this, the government should strengthen its drive against corruption. A study shows that the country loses P250 billion to corruption each year. In addition, events like this drives away would-have-been interested investors. A clear barrier to progress.
Eliminating corruption would mean helping the lives of millions of Filipinos as increased revenues and expanded projects would be a great help in ceasing poverty.