The House of Representatives on Thursday, accused the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), of ineffectively handling its mandate of conducting procurement audits of government agencies.
The House Committee on Procurement, during its 2021 budget defence session for the BPP, noted with dismay, that out of over 800 agencies of government, only 32 have been audited in the past four years.
The Committee disclosed that in line with the establishing Act of the BPP, the procurement audit reports of every agency ought to reach the National Assembly at least once in a year.
It said in spite of the humongous yearly budgetary provisions for the purpose, the Bureau has failed to utilize the funds for the purpose.
The committee frowned that the Bureau during its 2020 budget performance was unable to produce procurement audit reports to guide the proceedings ahead of the 2021 appropriation exercise.
It accused the Bureau of engaging in frivolous activities rather than concentrate on those of Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation and Supervision of all agencies of government to ensure compliance with public procurement, which comprised its core mandate.
Rather, it said the BPP was engaging in sporting activities, buying of computers and softwares, unnecessary local and international travels, as well as unfruitful money spinning training programmes for staff, in spite of evidences that most of its works were handled by consultants.
The committee directed the BPP to with immediate effect ensure that procurement audit reports covering four years from 2016 to 2019, were made available to it, and that henceforth, the reports must be made available as required by law.
It worried that the period of this failure covered from inception of the administration of the present Director General, (DG) , Mamman Ahmadu till date.
“We are shocked as a committee that we dontveven have materials to work with”, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai, a member of the committee lamented.
They insisted that a technical committee must be set up investigate the application of all budgeted funds to the BPP since 2016, demanding also that the DG submits all audit reports from 2016 to 2019 before end of the year.
They held that the action of the DG not conducting procurement audits of the agencies was a clear infraction of the law, which must not be tolerated.
The committee asked the DG if his Bureau received capital appropriation for procurement audits since 2016 to 2019, but the DG and his team claimed they were not sure.
In a bit to defend himself, the DG told the committee that procurement audit exercises were ongoing by different agencies of government.
“We have engaged some consultants to carry out audit. We have our own way of carrying out audit”, Ahmadu said.
He assured that he would make available detailed reports to the committee, pleading with the committee for understanding and good working relationship.
In presenting his agency’s 2021 budget estimate of almost N1.5billion, the DG told the committee that he was again, looking for N100million for computers and computer softwares, as against N70 million it got in 2020.
The committee was worried that in spite of the huge budgetary provisions for Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the agency, it was still seeking huge amounts for local and international travels, amid the gains that COVID 19 pandemic brought.
The agency also sought N12million for sporting activities, with members worrying what a procurement agency needed to do with such an amount in the name of sports.
However, the budget was approved by the committee presided by its Chairman, Nasir Ahmed, following request by members that to take the 2021 budget as submitted.
FCCPC: Electricity Topped Consumers’ Complaints In 2020
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it received the highest consumer related complaints from the electricity sector in 2020.
Speaking in Abuja on Sunday, Babatunde Irukera (pictured), chief executive officer of FCCPC, said the banking and telecommunication sectors ranked second and third respectively on the complaints chart.
He added that the aviation sector was ranked fourth.
“Our complaints resolution team is still a very small team of people and they are dealing with thousands of complaints,” Irukera said.
“We are looking at expanding capacity to have more hands handling the complaints but the real game changer in handling complaints better and faster is for companies to start doing it.
“The person who has the least open complaint in our resolution team has about 800 complaints across sectors and that is one person. If you multiply it by 12 to 15 persons, you will imagine the number of complaints.
“Being able to expand to a point where we are able to operate more efficiently, we will keep training, leveraging technology, the more we leverage technology, the more efficiently we can do our work.”
The commission was established by the 2018 Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) to promote fair, efficient and competitive markets in the Nigerian economy, facilitate access by all citizens to safe products, and protect the rights of all consumers in Nigeria.
FEC Approves CBN’s Request To Renovate National Theatre For N21b
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said on Wednesday that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the ministry of information and culture for the renovation of the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos.
He spoke at the end the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja.
The federal government, on July 12, 2020, handed over the national theatre to CBN and the bankers’ committee to signify the kick-start of the renovation process.
“This is a landmark approval because, it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry,” Mohammed said.
“The CBN and banker’s committee are willing to invest N21.894 billion to renovate, refurbish and commercialization (run it profitably) of the national theatre complex. The MoU has a life span of 21 years after which it will revert back to government.”
The minister assured that no job will be lost after the national theatre is renovated, adding that the “brand new national theatre, an event centre” will instead create more jobs.
Asides from this, FEC approved about N9.43 billion to complete the digital switch over (DSO) in broadcasting; N8.98 billion for a new national ICT park in the federal capital territory (FCT) to coordinate public and private ICT hubs in Nigeria.
The council also approved a new national policy on aging which would take care of the needs of the aged people across Nigeria; approved the ministry of water resources memo to construct Damaturu water supply project in Yobe state worth N8.43 billion.
Adesina identifies Debt Service As Greatest Risk To Nigeria
The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has warned that debt service is Nigeria’s greatest risk, even as he urged the federal government to take steps to increase tax revenue in the face of dwindling oil income.
The Director of Communications and Liaison of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Abdullahi Ahmad, stated that he spoke virtually at the recently held First Annual National Tax Dialogue .
Dr. Adesina was quoted as saying that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s economy shrank “by 3% in 2020 on account of falling oil prices and the effects of the lockdowns on economic activities,” adding, “with shrinkage in oil revenues, debt service payments pose the greatest risk to Nigeria.”
He stressed further that for Nigeria to overcome the pandemic, “taxes must form a significant percentage of government revenue. Digitalization of tax collection and tax administration is critical to ensure greater transparency of the tax system, widening of the tax base, while mitigating compliance risks and encouraging voluntary tax compliance.”
Tax experts and stakeholders at the event called for the automation of tax collection by the FIRS through data and intelligence in order to ease tax collection, as well as, improve revenue.
Executive Secretary, African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Mr. Logan Wort, harped on the place of technology in generating revenue for the country in a post-Covid economy.
Mr. Wort, who joined the dialogue virtually from South Africa, stated, “Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM) is expected to contribute at least 75% to 90% on average per country” in the post-Covid era, adding that Nigeria and other African countries should note, “improved tax revenue will have to take prime position” in the scheme of things.
He urged Nigeria to pay serious attention to e-commerce and the digital economy sector where big, trans-national digital conglomerates like Google, Netflix and Uber operate and make huge, tax-free profits as a possible way of increasing tax revenue generation.
He said Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Ghana in e-commerce taxation, projected to fetch Ghana $450 million in annual tax revenue.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was chairman of the Dialogue, was quoted as lauding the FIRS “for its performance in the 2020 fiscal year, despite operating in the most challenging period. The Service not only collected N4.9 trillion in taxes, achieving 98% of its target; only 30.6% of this was attributed to Petroleum Profits Tax, from what used to be over 50%”.
He urged participants to, “interrogate how Nigeria can further deepen the use of technology to improve tax compliance nationally and across sub-nationals.”