Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday, called for the need to strengthen the Public Procurement Act for optimal budget performance and to check corruption.
This is coming just as the House Committee on Public Procurement advocated for new procurement system for the nation’s defence sector.
The speaker, while declaring open the public hearing on a bill for an Act to amend the public procurement Act, 2007, HB. 475, charged the Committee on Public Procurement to get inputs from stakeholders for the purpose of amending the Public Procurement Act in line with international best practices and report back to the House.
He, however, recalled that the Public Procurement Act 2007 was enacted to curb the excesses in the award and execution of government contracts and the sheer inadequacy of existing regulations.
He said that “It has, however, become inevitable in the light of recent happenings, that the Act is due for amendment to further check corruption and procurement irregularities.”
In considering the amendments, he advised the committee to look at the possibility of shortening the time spent on public procurement in order to ensure budget execution within a budget year.
He equally asked the committee to consider the issue of mobilisation fees for government, adding that the committee should also look at the composition of the National Council on Procurement to ensure its neutrality and effectiveness.
On his part, the Chairman of the committee, Honourable Wole Oke, maintained that, “There is urgent need to create a new procurement system for our defence sector.”
According to him, “the events of last few months underscore this need for a paradigm shift in the way we conduct our defence procurement. We need a system that is backed by the right and most appropriate legal framework. A system that has global reference and that we can be proud of in the comity of nations.”
Part of the amendment the committee is working on, he said, has to do with inclusion of “a new member to the council, amending the procedure for appointing the Director General and fully extending the application of the Act to Defence procurement.”
Speaking further, he said, “The legislative intervention we are taking in reforming the procurement system in Nigeria is the review and amendment of the public procurement Act.
“The enactment of the Act has over the years proven to be counter-productive and so not reflecting contemporary developments in the procurement sector. Similarly, some key provisions of the Act have not been fully implemented by successive governments.
“A notable example is the failure to appoint members of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP). This has gravely affected the rapid advancement of our procurement system in a manner that can be likened to an aircraft flying on only one of two engines. If we must prevent a crash, we must turn on the second engine to create the needed balance,” he stated.