Abuja – The Federal Government has directed its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to collate and submit all procurement records for 2014 to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) by Oct. 26.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, gave the directive on Wednesday in Abuja at a one day interactive session with directorate cadre, procurement officers of federal MDAs.

Represented by the Director, Economic Policy Analysis, Mrs Ijeoma Unaogu, he said that all statutory requirements of the

Procurement Act would be enforced because the current administration would uphold the rule of law.

“I was made to understand that these records will give government an overview of all procurement activities embarked upon by the various MDAs, irrespective of approval thresholds.

“This information will enable government to design its financial commitment and subsequently allocate resources appropriately.

“Unfortunately, I have been informed that only a few MDAs complied with this directive.

“The BPP is accordingly directed to submit the list of MDAs that fail to comply with this directive to my office for appropriate sanctions,’’ he said.

Lawal, however, noted that there were some procurement malpractices that needed to be addressed.

They include splitting of contracts to evade approval thresholds established by government and award of contracts above the approval limits of MDAs.

The SGF observed that procurement should be a tool for good governance and as such, anti-graft agencies such as the BPP would be supported to achieve the objective.

He, however, said that the Federal Government would support the BPP “to collaborate with state governments to domesticate the Procurement Act in their various states”.

The Director-General, BPP, Mr Emeka Ezeh, said the already declining price of crude oil was putting a lot of strain on the nation’s economy and so all avenues of leakage should be checked.

“It is important to remind us of the declining price in crude oil, our main source of financing the national budget.

“This will put more pressure on the already insufficient funds for our national prospects.

“This makes it more imperative to ensure judicious use of funds and avoid bad procurement practices that may lead to project abandonment and non-attainment of value-for-money in project delivery.’’

He said the forum was aimed at finding appropriate solutions to the challenges affecting implementation of procurement reforms.

Mr Bayo Awosemusi, Acting Country Director, World Bank, said that the elements for effective reforms include committed leadership and political will to make the necessary changes.

Others are the development of enabling legislation with new procedures and practices.

He said that challenges of procurement reforms were weak capacity in the judiciary to hear procurement related cases and need for a broader coalition of support for the reforms.

Others are timely payment of suppliers and contractors; payment of interest on delayed payment and difficulty of the regulatory agency to enforce liquidated damages and termination of contract due to non-performance.

He said there were consequences for not reforming such as slow infrastructure development, corruption, unemployment and inequality which could lead to unrest and instability of the country.

Representing the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Mr Eze Onyekpere of the Centre for Social Justice, said that the objectives of national policies should be about growing the economy.

“Procurement is not done in a vacuum; it is part of continuum of national development and public expenditure management.

“It is not just a question of saying that you are procuring; what is the essence of the procurement; what national growth is it contributing towards and what do we get as outcome at the end of the day.’’

He said that whatever resources the nation had should be used to attain the required development.

The  forum is expected to broaden the participants’ knowlegde on the requirements of the public procurement.

The processes are meant to boost efficient implementation of the capital projects component of the national budget.

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