By Nse Anthony-Uko
ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Federal Government can reduce its capital and recurrent expenditures in the 2016 Budget by as much as N48.43 billion using the electronic-Procurement platform, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) said on Monday.
Acting Director-General of the BPP, Mr. Ahmed Abdul, who revealed this stated that “e-Procurement will enable the Federal Government achieve efficiency and reduce wastage in its transactions.
Addressing a gathering professional procurement officers in Abuja, Abdul said that with the use of the technology, ”huge opportunities for savings that will be realised by the Federal Government from the implementation of e-Procurement.”
According to him,” the total non-payroll spend for the Federal Government, based primarily on the Budget for 2016, for the selected six pilot Ministries is approximately N1,468,341,056,996.00. It is projected that, if e-Procurement is implemented on this Pilot Scheme, the potential financial savings will be N48,436,717,647.00, which represents savings of approximately 5% on Recurrent Expenditure and 3% on Capital Expenditure.”
The BPP boss said “our procurement system to reduce human interface in a manner that MDAs can submit their requests to the Bureau for Due Process “No Objection” in electronic form and the Bureau, similarly, will issue Due Process “No Objection” to MDAs in electronic form. In this way, efficiency is more achieved and corruption related issues arising from human interface are eliminated, leading to increased transparency and accountability in public service.”
Also speaking, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Procurement, Dr Oluwole Oke, said “most request to be made by President Buhari for emergency economic powers can be robustly tackled with the e-procurement system.”
The legislator stated that “this is the best time to look into e-public procurements in Nigeria because we are in recession. The economy must be stimulated through increased public spending. The federal government has pledged to roll out stimulus package, but this move alone will not sufficiently address the economic challenges we are facing.”
The good intentions of the government he said “can only succeed if it meets the expected mandate. Time is of the essence, this is where e-procurement comes in. We need not be scared away, countries that have refined their procurement systems have introduced e-procurement or digital procurement and this has reduced procurement cost, improved administrative efficiency, streamlined processes, minimal corruption, superb benchmarking, selection of most competent suppliers and bidders and excellent value for money.”
He added that “there are ongoing amendments to the current procurement laws in both chambers and I can confirm that the public hearing has been concluded by the House of Representatives and the proposals for the procurement bill have been sent to relevant committees of the National Assembly.”
Oke noted that one of the basic tools that the President needs to humble corruption in this country is the procurement act. “We have been hearing that some people are toying with the idea of emergency powers so that they can fast-track procurement processes in Nigeria. What you need to do this is e-procurement. It is a practice that has been adopted across the globe and it has worked. So, all Mr. President needs to resuscitate the economy and to humble corruption in the public sector is to deploy the procurement laws.”
He lamented that the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) has no council. “A council should be inaugurated. Thank God the Act is undergoing review in the House. If there are views or areas those who are thinking of emergency powers for Mr. President, want us to address, now they have the opportunity to do so.”
Oluwole Oke stated that “if e-procurement is adopted, you are going to maximize your gains by minimizing the cost. Then, you are going to eliminate substantially corruption because everybody can see through the window. Thirdly, manpower will be saved, because it is going to be auto. We are going to identify procurers and suppliers at best prices across the globe. The issue of members of the executive or people working in one ministry or agency shortchanging Nigerians will no longer be there.”
The legislator also used the opportunity to speak on the controversial 2016 budget padding saga. According to him, “the ultimate power of execution resides with the executive. The president can implement the budget he considers fit for the country and in doing so, they (executive) must carry the legislature along.
He noted that “as parliamentarians, as I speak, all the noise being made in public arena, is unknown to the parliament. We have rules; our house is house of rules. We have laws. We have ways of addressing issues. Mr President has gateways, he has tools to manage the budget. He can send that budget back for amendment.”
He noted that “the purpose of Ijesha North people electing me to represent them in the parliament is to bring projects back to the constituency. Between 2003 and 2011, I took three projects home and that has enhanced my election. So, will you call that padding? It is not padding. It is unknown to the parliament. The purpose of the parliament is not to come and look at Zuma Rock in Abuja. It is for you to come here and attract projects lawfully to our constituencies.”
He stated that “the gentleman, who is shouting of padding or no padding, should now be a guest of security agencies because he is like trying to put democracy asunder in this country.”
In his keynote address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Engr. Babachir David Lawal represented by the Permanent Secretary General Services Mr Muhammed Bukar said “government expects that, by the end of September 2016, the implementation of e-Procurement would have commenced in the pilot Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to facilitate the speedy implementation of the 2017 fiscal year.”
Based on this premise, the government he said “expects the 2017 budget to be less contentious, to the extent that all the procurements that go into the Appropriation Bill would have passed the tests of transparency, accountability and efficiency.”
The SGF also noted that the BPP is working with the following selected Pilot Ministries: Federal Ministry of Health; Federal Ministry of Education; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Federal Ministry of Transportation; Federal Ministry of Water Resources; and Federal Ministry of Works, Power & Housing.
Nigeria he said has made huge investments in the following Government agencies: Federal Ministry of Finance (GIFMIS), the Ministry of Budget & National Planning (Budget platform), Federal Ministry of Communication (and its agencies such as National Information Technology Development Agency, Galaxy Backbone, NigComSat,etc.), he then urged them “to collaborate with the BPP to ensure a robust e-Procurement solution in the implementation of the pilot project and eventual scale-up.”