2020 Budget: Ministries, agencies over-pricing projects — Lawan

Senate President Ahmed Lawan (Photo Credit: Punch Newspaper)
Senate President Ahmed Lawan (Photo Credit: Punch Newspaper)

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has called for streamlining of the process of allocation and releases of funds to ministries.

He said this has become important against the backdrop of overpricing of projects proposed in the budget by ministries, and the paucity of revenue.

Mr Lawan, who spoke during the national hearing of the 2020 budget organised by the senate committee on appropriation Wednesday, said uniformity will be ensured in the prices that will be passed for similar projects of ministries.

“Our projects are overpriced. What maybe procured in $10,000 in one country maybe you use a hundred thousand (dollars) in Nigeria and knowing fully that we have a paucity of funds and revenues.

“I think the time has come that we have to do something about it. If 10 agencies of the government need to purchase an item, say item A, they are going to the same market, why should they give us different prices? Why?

“So in this budget, our committees will look into that. If you are buying computers and 10 ministries are buying, you must make sure the price remains the same and it is not overpriced.”

A major feature in the 2020 budgetary proposal (budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/2020-executive-budget-proposal), like previous versions, is the presence of lump sums.

Figures are quoted without details like quantity, suggesting no market survey was done before the prices were proposed or a premeditated attempt to inflate prices.

An example is an ongoing project of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) with the code ERGP10140070, named “purchase of one 500KVA soundproof generators for Lagos office”, and priced at ₦26,930,992.

According to online sales shop Jumia, this item goes for ₦19 million.

But Mr Lawan said the legislature would not have any of this.

“The Ministry of Finance has an efficiency unit, we have to work on this. We are not after contractors. We need to have some margins forming contractors to their businesses,” he said.

“Whether a contractor is Nigerian or a foreigner, that contractor must be concerned with the situation of Nigeria. If you are a Nigerian contractor, that even makes it more mandatory that you are patriotic in addition to getting your profit.”

The defence of budgets by MDAs is in its second week and this is expected to end Friday.

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