House Probes N275 Billion Ports Inspection Contract

24 Jan 2013

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Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha

Rejects monopoly in cement sector

Onwuka Nzeshi 
in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to  investigate and ascertain  the status  of a  N275 billion inspection contracts signed between the Federal Government and  four foreign firms.

The investigation came same day the House rejected a motion perceived to have been designed to encourage monopoly in the cement manufacturing business in Nigeria.

The contracts which were  awarded under the  Destination Inspection Scheme (DIS)  gave the firms the responsibility of  providing  scanning services, using  electronic platform at various ports  in Nigeria.

In a motion sponsored  by Hon. Abimbola Daramola (ACN/Ekiti), the House was told that  the firms  namely, Cotecna  Inspection Limited; SGS Scanning Nigeria Limited; Global Scan Systems Limited and Webb Fountain (Nigeria) Ltd, handling information and communication technology services have been handling inspection at the ports  in the last seven  years.

Daramola disclosed that these firms  were supposed to build, equip, train, and transfer the technology  to the Nigerian Customs Service and exit the scene  at the end of last year. 

Daramola, however, alleged that last December, the Ministry  of Finance and the  Nigerian Customs Service unilaterally  extended  the contract for a period of six  months

The lawmaker stated  that as a result of the extension, the sum of N21 billion would be paid to these firms  without any guarantee that they would  hand over  the inspection operations to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) any time soon.

The continued presence  of these firms, Daramola said, was becoming a rip off on government  revenue  from the ports.

According to him, about  $1 billion has been lost to the activities of these firms. The House  investigation is to be conducted in two weeks. 

In a related development, the lawmakers  also threw away  a motion that sought to investigate the circumstances surrounding the non-implementation of the  Backward Integration Policy (BIP) on local production of cement in the country.

The motion sponsored  by Hon. Hassan Saleh,  alleged  that the Federal Government  was not  vigorously  implementing  the provision of the  backward integration policy in the cement sector.

Saleh explained that  the policy  was initiated to encourage and protect local manufacturers from the dumping of cement products into the country through importation.

He, however, said the non-adherence to the policy  had caused the management of Dangote Cement to temporarily shut down its Gboko Cement Plant in Benue State.

The development has forced the company to lay off its  workers.

However, these  arguments did not  sway the majority of the lawmakers at plenary. Those opposed to the motion said the motion was misdirected and geared towards creating a monopoly in the cement sector. 

Meanwhile, proceedings of the House  were stalled yesterday  midway into the plenary  session following the  malfunctioning of the  audio system  in the chamber.

Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who presided over at the session acknowledged  the  technical hitches experienced by members in the course of the debates had also stalled  the recording of the proceedings.

Ihedioha said problem would be rectified by the technical department of the parliament.

Based on this, the House adjourned plenary to enable members observe the Id’el malud celebrations.

The lawmakers will  resumes  on  Tuesday  next week.

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, House, N275 Billion, Ports Inspection Contract

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