PLDT says tightening procurement rules after capex overrun

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2023 06:43 PM

PLDT President and CEO Al Panlilio reports on the telco giant's corporate results. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News
PLDT President and CEO Al Panlilio reports on the telco giant's corporate results. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - "It's a cleanup year for us."

PLDT President and CEO Al Panlilio said this to reporters following the issue on the P33 billion budget overrun that has rocked the telco giant since late last year. 

"It's a painful experience," added Panlilio on the issue.

PLDT's target capital expenditure (capex) for the year is P80-85 billion, but a large portion of that has been earmarked to pay for the overruns.

Panlilio said about P11 billion of the amount had already been booked in the first quarter and the remaining amount may be paid this year or the next.

"What part of the overrun has been booked? He's [PLDT CFO Dennis Yu] saying 11 billion, but the 33 number remains the same. Now obviously he also said our guidance for the year for capex is 80-85 [billion]; part of that is the 33 [billion]. The balance is the fresh capex we are working on for the business," said Panlilio.

They have also instituted reforms to prevent a repeat of the capex overrun and now have a very strict procurement process.

"There was a moratorium for us in terms of PO (purchase order) issuances in the first quarter. It's only now that we're starting to... second quarter after settlement that happened in late March, when the issue on capex has been resolved, that's the only time we reopened a lot of the approvals for PO," Panlilo added.

The budget overrun was first reported at P48 billion late last year covering the last three years. In March PLDT claimed the total of budget overruns only amounted to P33 billion, after talks with suppliers to clarify the matter. 

The issue has also shaken management with several top officials either opting for early retirement last April or resigning, including former CFO Annabelle Chua. 

A class action suit was also filed in the US, but PLDT earlier said lead complainants lacked sufficient financial interest to establish their standing on the case.

In spite of all of this, Panlilio said they remain optimistic about their prospects.

PLDT reported a 5 percent year-on-year increase in its core income to P8.6 billion in the first quarter of the year. Service revenues rose to P47.1 billion.