Lagos State House of Assembly has proposed the amendment of the State Procurement Agency Law, 2015 with a view to increasing the advance payment from 20 to 40 per cent.
This was made known on Wednesday during a day public hearing on the bill titled, ‘The Lagos State Public Procurement Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2020,’ at the Assembly premises where stakeholders commended the House for being proactive in making procurement law workable and more efficient.
In his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa who was represented by his Deputy, Hon Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun said, “Procurement is very important. It has to do with the delivery of goods and services. We felt we should do what is needed to set the state on the part of progress.”
According to him, “the idea of a public hearing affords the policymakers the opportunity to hear from the masses. It is meant to build public confidence in the government. Good legislation must not be the yearnings of the populace alone, it must be the aggregated interest of the people.
“We are here to discuss important issues, which is public procurement. Procurement is broad and all-encompassing and covers all aspects of government activities. Lagos State is proud to be one of the states with one of the best procurement policies in Nigeria,”
He stated, “We must never rest on oars towards the provision of better democracy. We can make remarkable progress and improvement through our contributions today.”
Giving an overview of the Bill, the Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said, “the law as it stands today has 83 sections, out of which we are proposing to amend 38 sections. The reason for the amendment is to simplify the narration.
Agunbiade explained, “Amendment of section 63, advance payment of not more than 40 per cent of the contract sum may be paid to a supplier or contractor.
“Provided that advance payment above 40 per cent shall be subject to the Regulation prescribed by the Agency.
“Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, any person, company or authority who accesses mobilization fee and absconds or does not carry out the services or works commensurate to the fee paid commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years or a fine equivalent to the fee paid or both ”
A town planner, Dahunsi Osho, Vice Chairman of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government in his contribution queried, “When can one say that a contractor has absconded? One might collect money and he would not be available for the next one year,” adding time should be attached to abscondment.”
Mr Akeem Kareem, representing legal officers in the local governments observed, “there is a lacuna and the composition of the Tenders Committee of the local government was not stated. This should be done to avoid any form of rancour.
Amendment of Section 31, it should be expunged and replaced by a new law.”
Dr Ade Adekoya, President of the Body Of Council of Treasurers said, “the issue of local government is omitted and they should be included so that we will know that it is applicable to the local government.”
He argued, “due to the peculiarity of the local government, there should be a section that deals with local government activities. The Chairman of the Tender Board should be the Vice Chairman, but the law is silent on this.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with journalists, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Procurement, Hon. Rauf Age-Sulaimon said the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the society is regulated and the society is made up of so many segments. As you are talking about development, procurement is the most important because if government projects are not properly executed of course you will not see the result.
“We have been talking about the money needed for projects and the economy is not smiling at all and for us to support contractors or actors there is need on the part of the government to encourage them. The essence of this is to increase from 20% to 40% so that the person involved would be able to do the job effectively.
“We will ensure that the contractors adhere strictly to the terms of the contract. It will benefit the masses because it will not be winner takes all. It will not be the survival of the fittest because the fittest might not be capable. It is open to everybody. Once you have the requirement you will be allowed to bid and apart from that, the timing is open to everybody. That is why we brought it before everybody.
“When you talk about bidding and information about it, everybody should be aware so that they would not be cut off. You will be given enough time to prepare your tender. It is to encourage everybody to participate so that the job would be given to the highest bidder not in terms of the money, but in terms of technicality.
“There cannot be any meaningful development without infrastructure development. Due to policy summersaults, there is need for us to be up to date,” Age-Sulaimon stated.
By Okunade Adekunle