Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has discredited reports quoting the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) which said contracts were inflated in ministries he headed in President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term. The former Lagos State Governor says the report is misleading.
On Monday BPP said it saved N26bn for the Federal Government in 2018 alone by revising the contract sums of government contracts approved by some ministries, departments, and agencies according to media reports.
BPP stated that 86 certificates of “No Objection’’ for contracts totalling N1.421tn were initially awarded before it was reduced to N1.394tn.
The highest reduction was made from the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing where N22.22bn was cut from a request of N877.40bn.
Reacting to the report, Fashola, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communication, Hakeem Bello, also asked that the BPP should make its rates public.
“The attention of the Minister of Works and Housing has been drawn to headlines from reports credited to the BPP about its having ‘saved over N26bn’ 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.”
The minister argued that any person who took time to read the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, which created the BPP would understand that no contract could be awarded until BPP certified that it had “no objection.”
Fashola said, “Therefore there was no inflated contract because BPP clearly stated that it reduced the costs, and according to BPP she ‘saved over N26bn.’
“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.”
He added, “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.”
The minister stressed that once rates were published and design was known, quantities could be ascertained and costs could be determined.
“This is the field of quantity surveyors and construction economists, and the Minister of Works and Housing has not made any secret about his call for a revision of the Public Procurement Act to resolve this and other gaps in the law,” Fashola stated.
He stated that during the first term of the current 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 the BPP to consider, adopt or amend and publish.