Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has faulted a recent claim by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) that the agency saved about N26 billion for the federal government from allegedly inflated public contracts awarded by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Fashola, in a statement from his Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, yesterday said that BPP’s cost-saving claims were subjective.
Expressing doubts on whether the BPP even knows its own rates for public procurements, Fashola called on the agency to make public its rates for public contracts, so that it could be determined if indeed any savings were made.
“The attention of the minister of works and housing has been drawn to headlines from reports credited to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) about its having saved over N26 billion for the federal government in the year 2018 by revising down ‘inflated’ contract sums by government contractors some of which emanated from the erstwhile ministry of power, works and housing.
“Being a department of the same government, ordinarily this should not warrant a reply; however, the misleading nature of the reporting in the media and the statements credited to BPP compel a response for the purposes of clarification and enlightenment of the public,” Fashola said in the statement.
According to him, any person who read the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, which created the BPP will understand that no contract can be awarded until the BPP certified it with a certificate of ‘no objection’.
He said on the basis of this that, “there was no inflated contract because the BPP clearly stated that it reduced the costs.
“And this is the heart of the matter, because BPP’s savings can only be a subjective assessment based on rates quoted by contractors, reviewed by the ministry and sent to BPP for certification.”
Fashola explained that: “Until BPP publishes its rates which the then ministry of power, works and housing has demanded in writing, there can be no objective basis for determining whether any savings were indeed made if only BPP knows its own rates for procurement.”
He stated that once such procurements rates are published and designs known, it would be easier for contract quantities to be ascertained and their costs equally determined.
The minister noted that this was the job of quantity surveyors and construction economists, adding that he has not hidden his call for a revision of the Public Procurement Act to resolve such gaps in the law.
According to him, during the first term of this administration, the ministry of power, works and housing had commissioned the compilation of a service-wide rate of major items of procurement from the largest to the smallest for BPP to consider, adopt or amend and publish, adding that this was the type of reform he had advocated to improve uniformity, transparency, accountability and value for money in public procurement.