Economy

Public Procurement Act breeds corruption, says Lawan

…seeks immediate review of Act

 

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Monday hinted of a possible review of the 2007 Public Procurement Act.

Lawan, who spoke when he hosted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha in Abuja, said that loopholes embedded in the Act make the legislation susceptible to be exploited for corrupt practices.

He added that the Act was not only capable of promoting corruption but also hinders speedy project implementation in the country.

As a result of identified inadequacies in the Act, the Senate President said that the upper chamber would carry out a holistic review of the Act as part of the measures to sanitise the process of contract award and execution in the country.

According to him, the Act as presently framed is frustrating as far as contract award and execution are concerned.

He noted that holistic review and amendment of the Act had become necessary in the interest to streamline the processes of contract award and execution in the country.

Lawan said, “The public procurement in Nigeria as far as I can see is not the best in the world. The public procurement must be reviewed and amended. We must see how we can make it more practical and holistic within the shortest possible time.

“From the stage of bidding to mobilization, the costing of any government contracts must be uniform in order to avoid imbalances and embarrassment in the processes.

“A situation where about twenty agencies of government buy the same brand of vehicles at grossly different prices is not good.

“Market prices must be determined and adhered strictly to ensure that Nigerians are not shortchanged through abuse of processes or over-invoicing.

“Even the 15% mobilisation fee specifies in the Act by realities on the ground is more of demobilising contractors than mobilising them with attendant loopholes for fraudulent practices.”

The Senate President noted that as a way of managing the Act as it is pending the planned review, the Ninth Senate would ensure that its standing committee on Public Procurement will be composed of members who have the required knowledge and experience of the entire process of procurement.

He said, “Our Public Procurement committee will be a very strong committee this time around. The cost of projects in Nigeria is mostly the highest in the world. We cannot continue like this, not in the face of very scarce resources.

“So, we are going to insist that public procurement particularly is considered better than before. If there should be the purchase of buses by ten or twenty ministries, the cost must be uniform so that we don’t drag into crisis on what we buy.

“The Procurement Committee when in place will make sure we work towards achieving this set agenda in order to avoid putting the public at a disadvantaged position.”

The Senate President commended the SGF for bringing cordiality to the Executive and the Legislature.

He noted that cordiality between the two arms of government would foster understanding among the tiers of government and increase developmental strides of the present administration.

The SGF on his part applauded Lawan for starting on what he described as a vibrant mood.

Mustapha noted that the Nigerian project is of great importance to the present administration and urged members of the parliament to continue to strengthen the ties with other arms of government in order to achieve the set agenda of the Buhari’s administration in good time.

He appealed to senators to always put the nation first, promising that the executive arm is determined to ensure a successful tenure of office for the leadership of the National Assembly and other members.

Mustapha also stressed the integral role of the Executive, Legislature and by extension, the Judiciary should play for the sustenance of democracy in the country.

The SGF noted that the seamless election of the presiding officers of the Senate gave them the feeling that the two arms of government would work harmonious for the growth of the country.

He said that if the Executive and the Legislature develop the habit of working hand in hand the country would be blessed and move from one level to another.

The SGF underscored that fact that the fight against corruption is dear to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senate, he said, should assist President Buhari to ensure that the anti-corruption crusade succeeded.

-TheNation

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