FG saves N528bn on project reviews

The Federal Government on Monday said it had saved N528bn on reviews conducted on some projects between 2009 and now.

The reviews were carried out in order to ensure that their award conformed to the Public Procurement Act.

The Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, disclosed this at the first national conference on public procurement held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“From 2009 to date, the bureau has saved over N528b on project reviews, established a procurement cadre in the system and issued standard bidding documents for all classes of procurement; issued standard regulations for works, goods and services; established debarment and complaint procedures; translated the Act into Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages,” he told the gathering that included Vice President Namadi Sambo and state governors

Ezeh added that the bureau had also recommended over 180 companies for investigation.

He said the list of the affected firms was submitted to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He added that their offences varied from tax fraud to understatement of turnover.

Ezeh said, “Over 180 companies have been recommended to the ICPC and EFCC for investigation on matters bordering on tax fraud that included forgery, use of fake documents and understatement of turnover, among others.

“The states have been denied these benefits because they have no law on procurement. In most cases where EFCC has investigated corruption cases involving contract award at the last point, they will realise that the federal law, as it is today, does not apply to the states or local governments.”

Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the event, said the government had directed the BPP to begin categorisation and classification of contractors, a process that he noted was ongoing.

He said during the 2015 financial year, any company not registered or categorised in the BPP database would not be allowed to do any business with the Federal Government.

The vice president reaffirmed the government’s commitment to further strengthen the BPP to continue to carry out its assignment.

Sambo said 24 states had so far passed procurement laws and set up their own regulatory authorities.

He urged the remaining 12 states to, as a matter of urgency, intensify efforts aimed at concluding the process leading to the passage of their laws and start the implementation immediately.

While stressing the need for great political will to implement the programme, Sambo urged the state governments to protect the regulatory bodies just as the Federal Government had been doing with the BPP.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, observed that what was being lost in states where there were no procurement reforms was critical.

She, therefore, joined the call on the state governments that had yet to pass the law to do so, while also canvassing the support of the private sector.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State told the gathering that his state had so far saved N7bn due to procurement reforms, while the Acting Governor of Taraba State, Garba Umar, said the state equally saved N15.4bn between 2007 and 2014.

A former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, who was the chairman of the occasion, described public procurement as a tool to fight corruption.

Curled from Punch Newspaper

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