By Naomi Sharang
Abuja – A bill for an act to amend the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 to increase the mobilisation fees paid to contractors and suppliers and other matters related thereto has passed second reading in the Senate.
Also, a bill for an act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and Bureau of Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007 and for related matters passed second reading.
The two bills which were sponsored by Senators Shuaibu Lau (PDP-Taraba North) and Uche Ekwunife(PDP-Anambra Central) were thereafter consolidated by the President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan.
Presenting his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, Lau said that the Public Procurement (PPA) Act 2007 which was signed into law on the June 4, 2007 was currently the root of most of the corruption in public procurement in Nigeria.
“This is because of the observed serious loopholes and lacuna in the PPA 2007 which provides room for procuring entities and Bureau for Public Procurement to abuse and manipulate procurement process in the country,” he said.
He said that the proposed bill sought to remedy those anomalies by amending 57 Sub Sections and introducing 88 new subsections to the existing Act.
“The sections and the subsections of the bill for amendment I think are very important toward ensuring transparency accountability and good governance in the conduct of government business in Nigeria,” he said.
Lau further said that Section 35 of the bill proposed an upward review of the mobilisation fee to be given to contractors from 15 to 30 per cent to promote local contractors and ensure early completion of projects.
He said that Section 1 and 2 of the Act provided for the composition and function of the National Council on Public Procurement which had not been constituted due to some administrative problems since 2007.
“This issue is intended to be addressed by this Bill.
“Similarly, the bill is proposing for contractors to submit to procuring entities, an insurance performance bond from a reputable insurance company for all local contracts and irrevocable bank guarantee for international contracts,” he said.
He, however said that the bill was timely and if passed into law would go a long to strengthen the contract approval process and reduce the time framework to complete procurement cycle among others.
On her part, Ekwunife said that the bill was read for the first time on Wednesday, Nov. 13 .
She said that the proposed amendment was simple and uncomplicated.
“It merely recommends unambiguous amendments to specified provisions of the Act in order to improve the operational efficiency of the procurement process without adversely affecting the underlined purpose and the tenement of the Act.
Contributing, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan(APC-Lagos West) said that with the amendment of the Act, the issues of abandoned projects across the country would be streamlined.
“We should also look at the area of Certificate of no Objection.
“You notice that three quarter of agency of government go after the Certificate of no Objection in a bid to circumvent the process of procurement.
“I suggest that the BPP as presently constituted must be unbundled and the Senate Committee on Public Procurement must look at the current composition of the board,” she said.
In his remark, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan, said that “12 years down the line, we would have seen the strength and weaknesses of the Act but certainly, the last 12 years revealed the inadequacies, loopholes and lacuna that are in the Act.
“If this Act remains as it is today with unnecessarily cumbersome and lengthy processes of bidding, the time we would have gained from passing the budget in time could be lost in processing or implementation of the projects.”
He urged all stakeholders who had anything to do or any interest on public procurement to take advantage of the public hearing the Senate would hold on the bill to lend their voices.
The president of the senate thereafter referred the bill to the committee on public procurement to report back yo the chamber in two weeks.