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How encumbrances in procurement law delay project execution -Fashola.

THE Minister of Power, Works an Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while defending his ministry's 2018 budget before the Senate Committee last week, explained reasons there are preponderances of project abandonment or delayed in Nigeria.

One of the identified major reason, according to the Minister, is the seeming tedious process of procurement laws, among other processes before a contract could be awarded.

Responding to questions from committee members, especially on the status of roads in the 2017 budget which were not awarded in that year's expenditure, Fashola reiterated his earlier call for a bulk amount to be provided in the annual budget to fund roads, stating that it would make for the continuous funding of the roads not awarded during the budget year.

According to him, this would also solve the recurring problem of a project meant for one annual budget re-appearing in the budget for the following year for being delayed or abandoned.

'The present situation whereby the Procurement Law stipulates a process that takes up to six months as well as other processes involved before the award of a contract was responsible for the situation.

'Therefore, the question we must ask ourselves is, can we finance new projects every year? We are constructing roads in a very limited weather window and a very long drawn procurement process of about six months every year and without completing one, we go to another because our constituents want them', he said, noting that some of the roads being constructed run from 50km to about 500 kilometres, and in a state where there are three to five kilometres of such roads, it usually took 24 months to finish.

The implication of the above scenario is non- possibility of such lengthy roads to start and finish in one budget year. He therefore advised that it was necessary to adopt a process that would work for the country.

'Our resources are not increasing in the same exponential manner in which we are committing to new projects and we have projects that will have to be completed', the Minister said.

Commenting on the budget performance, Chairman of the Committee Senator Kabir Gaya, commended the Minister for the performance saying in the history of budget performance in the country in the last ten years there has not been such achievement adding that the budget for Works in 2014, which, according to him was much smaller than the 2017 budget could not achieve up to half performance while the 2017 budget of over N500Billion had performed so much in just two quarters.

'I want to say that in the history of our budget performance for the last ten years we have not seen such but in just two years we are seeing systematic progress. There was a budget of N20Billion I think in 2015 and the budget in the last two years has tripled that. This shows that this Government is concerned about improving the state of infrastructure', the Chairman said.

Noting that there have been some projects abandoned for 10 years before the coming of the present administration, the Chairman declared, 'This administration has graciously put money into them. So I think Honourable Minister, I believe you are equal to the task you will continue to handle it and we know you are capable.'

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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jan 24, 2018
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