Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate, Thursday, took a bold step towards enforcing the patronage of made in Nigeria goods in the award and implementation of government contracts, as it passed for third reading, the Bill seeking to Amend the Public Procurement Act (2007).
It also recommended for immediate constitution of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) by the President in the Bill, which will take away from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) the responsibility of awarding contracts and place such duty on the NCPP, to be chaired by the President.
According to the general principles of the Bill, if signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, it will provide for and adopt a local content policy and timely completion of procurement process, to enable local manufacturers have the chance to be considered in government contractual procurements.
Presenting report on the Bill to the Senate, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Procurement, Senator Joshua Dariye, said the Bill will go a long way to encourage Nigerian manufacturers, as the Committee sustained the section that stipulated local content priority.
He added that the Committee has equally sustained the amendment sought by the Bills for the purpose of patronizing made in Nigeria goods, alongside foreign goods.
“This will go a long way to encourage our Nigerian manufactures and by extension provide job opportunities for our teaming unemployed youths,” he said.
He also explained that the committee rejected part of the amendment proposed by the Bill, which seeks to review upwardly the mobilization fee to be paid contractors from 15 percent to 35 percent in view of the current downturn in the nation’s economy, but, however, jerked up to 25 percent by the Senate at the passage of the Bill.
He also explained the Committee’s position before the 25 percent approved mobilization fee for awarded contracts.
“The Senate believes that it does not make any economic sense to borrow at high interest rate and give up to 35 percent of contract sum to the same contractors that will be paid profit afterwards,” he added.
Explaining further, he said the committee enhanced the time for completion of procurement processes at various phases, while the Section 1 was amended by adding sub section (2) to give the President the powers to appoint the chairman of the council, which he said is in line with sections 171 and 172 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Briefing journalists, after the Bill was passed, Dariye also said the Committee enlarged the membership of the National Council on Procurement (NCP) to include the Nigerian Institute of Architects and the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Survey, pointing out that the two bodies are very vital to any capital project, which he said is the major aspect of procurement.
Meanwhile, he said that by the time the Bill is assented to by the President, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will no longer be in charge of awarding and approving contracts, but the NCP would be charged with the responsibility as provided for in the Constitution of the country.
He equally expressed confidence that Buhari, being a leader, who respects the rule of law, would sign the Bill when it is forwarded to him by the National Assembly.