DTI defends P2-M mobile phone expenses, 106 consultants
(The Philippine Star) - December 29, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The reported P2.39-million mobile phone bills of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its hiring of 106 consultants in 2014, including a foreigner, were all made for official purposes.

That’s the answer of Trade Undersecretary for   management services Nora Terrado to the Commission on Audit (COA), which demanded an explanation for the transactions, although she has yet to see the reports.

Any additional mobile phone expense that the DTI has incurred is expected, given the nature of trade negotiations, Terrado, who is on vacation, said in a phone interview.

“For audit observations on telephone, these were expenses spent for the conduct of official business of certain officials while traveling abroad,” she said.

“These officials were authorized to travel to conduct trade, investment mission and trade negotiations to reach bilateral or multilateral agreements with other economies. The cost to secure connectivity is necessary to communicate with home base and with other parties in the negotiation mission. Such expenses go beyond threshold while in the Philippines.

“While it is true that there is a threshold, you have to consider that it may be sufficient for the Philippines alone. If you’re someone who is traveling to negotiate for trade deals and inviting investors from other countries, there are transactions that can be done through email but sometimes it is important that these will be done through actual communication like phone calls.”

Terrado said 106 consultants were hired for projects, programs and activities in which the skills required “were not internally available in DTI and where the service would be for defined duration.”

The DTI welcomes COA’s report and intends to look at its recommendations, Terrado said.

“DTI is a transparent organization and COA is free to check our records,” she said.          

ACIRC AUDIT COA DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY DTI NBSP NORA TERRADO PHONE TERRADO TRADE TRADE UNDERSECRETARY
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