By Ben Rosario, April 29 2019; Manila Bulletin

Image Credit to GMA Network

The Commission on Audit has directed the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) to impose penalties or rescind contracts it entered into with various firms that have failed to complete on time the delivery of vital medical infrastructure and facilities of the state-run specialty hospital.

However, COA inspectors also blamed the NKTI for contributing to the delays, saying that both the hospital management and contractors were remiss in the submission of documents required for the issuance of building and mechanical permits and certificate for elevator operation.

COA noted delays of 139 to 514 days in the completion of four projects worth P31.337 million. This includes the replacement of elevators and construction of hemodialysis extension room.

In the recently-published 2018 annual audit report for NKTI, the state audit agency said the hospital’s management may either impose liquidated damages on the number of days of delay or rescind contracts.

“Delays in the completion of projects worth P31.337 million deprived the intended beneficiaries of the early use/operation of these facilities had these been completed within the specified contract time as agreed upon in the individual contract entered into by and between the NKTI and the contractors,” said the audit report submitted by a team headed by COA Director Clotilde M. Tuazon.

Completion of the P13.5-million “design and build” contract for the hemodialysis extension and emergency ramp was delayed for 259 days, said COA.

Elevators at the main building have not been in use for over a year now because of the failure of the contractor to install new ones, auditors disclosed.

The delay in the replacement of a generator set costing P7.958 million was blamed on both the NKTI and the contractor for failing to “ascertain the realistic time estimate” for the dismantling of the old generator.

However, despite the grant of extension of time by NKTI, the completion date remained delayed by 156 days “due to deferment of the permit to operate.”

COA said the delivery of a Fire Detection and Alarm System (FDAS) with a contract price of at least P5.62 million was likewise not realized for 139 calendar days as of December 31, 2018.

“As of this writing, the Contractor is still in the process of rectification of the deficiencies detailed in the punchlists as noted by the GSD (General Services Division) during the conduct of inspection,” auditors said.

Audit examiners asked the NKTI management to require the contractors to “expedite the rectificaiton of deficiencies” per project and impose liquidated damages equivalent to the number of days delayed.

If warranted, NKTI should rescind any contract for delays attributable to the contractor’s fault as provided under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

In response, the NKTI said it started conducting “mandatory contract implementation review’ of projects questioned by COA. It also assured the audit agency that it will institute closer monitoring and reporting of on-going and future infrastructure projects.