Gift Samuel, The Sight News
In a bid to support the fight against corruption, three civil society groups Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative (PRADIN), CISLAC and TUC has on Thursday stressed that the recommendation by the House of Representative to give 50 per cent mobilization fees to contractors will only further encourage corruption.
This is as they said that about 70 per cent of total corruption in public sector stems from procurement and thereby called for support from the general public to address the cankerworm.
The National Coordinator, PRADIN, Mr. Mohammed Attah who spoke on behalf of the groups at a media briefing in Abuja, on the Proposed Amendment to the Public Procurement Act 2007 by the House of Representatives, said that the move for amendment is out of place as the law makers cannot amend a law that has not been tested.
Attah who stressed on three distinct areas proposed for the amendment; Increase of contracts mobilization fee from 15 to 50 percent; Removal of the Finance Minister as chair of Public Procurement Council and Inclusion of National Defense and Security Agencies in Procurement processes stated that the Bill should be discarded as it is against the spirit of transparency and accountability.
He stated that the reasons given for the increase of the contracts mobilization fee from 15 to 50 per cent which is complaints and abandoning of site by contractors is not acceptable, saying that contractors abandon sites due to incomplete payment after work.
According to him; “There is a serious danger in making the request, to mobilize Contractor 50 per cent fees in advance of his or her execution of the project is a clear way of encouraging corruption. This cannot in our view stop or reduce instances of project abandonment, rather than increase mobilisation fee, government should endeavour to pay contractors as soon as they achieve their milestone”.
He took a swipe at the recommendation in the Bill which states that mobilized contractors risk two years jail term or an option of fine over abandoned projects, stressing that it is ridiculous and inconsistent with the extant law as well as a soft landing for offenders which will in turn increase corruption.
Furthermore, on the proposal to remove the Minister of Finance as chairman of the council, he said that it is most irrational and open abuse of the office of the President and an attempt to ridicule the fight against corruption.
The Coordinator noted with dismay that since the establishment of the PPA ten years ago, the law has been observed in disobedience as it does not comply with the provision of Part 1, Section 1 and 2 of the Act which is to inauguration of the National Council for Public Procurement as the policy organs of the body and the appointment of Director General in accordance to the law.
Also speaking, the representative of the Ambassadors Initiative for Development and Empowerment, Mr Chimelem Samuel called on the House of Representatives to step up in its oversight function to help for effective utilization of funds given to contractors.
While calling on the National Assembly to increase their responsibility, he said that the 15 per cent mobilization fee should be properly implemented rather that increasing the fee to 50 per cent.
The groups stated that the President should be encouraged to constitute and inaugurate the National Council for Procurement (NCPP) as the most effective tool in fighting corruption and sustaining the Change agenda of the present administration.