President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, says amendment to the Public Procurement Act 2007 by the National Assembly will guarantee successful implementation of the 2020 budget.
Lawan stated this in his remarks after the Senate debated exhaustively on Thursday, two critical Bills for an Act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and Bureau of Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007.
The two bills, which scaled second reading, were sponsored by Senators Shuaibu Isa and Uche Ekwunife respectively.
According to Senator Lawan, the inadequacies of the Public Procurement Act 2007 were largely responsible for the very low level of budget implementation recorded annually.
He added that the National Assembly will expeditiously accelerate legislative work on the amendment of the Act so as to ensure it is passed and signed into law to compliment the 2020 budget.
“Twelve years down the line, we have seen the strengths and weaknesses of the Act. Certainly, the last twelve years have revealed the inadequacies and loopholes that are in the Act.
“When we pass the Appropriations Bill 2020 before the end of the year, and the implementation commences from January, if this Act remains as it is today with unnecessary cumbersome processes of bidding, the time we would have gained from passing the budget will be lost in processing the budget for implementation.
“Just like we gave expeditious treatment to some of the bill passed recently, this is also important and significant because it will add value to the implementation of the 2020 Appropriations bill and so many issues that were raised about the weaknesses in the Procurement Act.”
Earlier, Sponsor of the first bill up for amendment, Senator Shuaibu Lau, said “the Public Procurement Act, 2007, which was signed into law on June 4, 2007, is currently the root cause of most of the corruption in public procurement in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker said the proposed bill seeks to remedy these anomalies by amending 57 sub-sections and introducing 88 new sub-sections to the existing Act.
He added that a proposed additional amendment of Section 1 of the Act is being introduced to prescribe those eligible to be appointed by the President into the position of the Chairman of the National Council of Public Procurement.
The bill proposes “A former President or Retired Chief Justice of the Federation” as an appointee eligible for consideration as Chairman of the National Council of Public Procurement.
It also proposed that membership of the committee must include the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Furthermore, it seeks to provide term of office and removal from office for members of the Council which are not provided for in the existing Act.
The Senate President thereafter referred the Amendment bill to the Senate Committee on Public Procurement for further legislative work.