As the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance beings implementation of policy geared towards ensuring better value-for-money in running government organisations, the unit has said it would be saving the government about N12 billion from procurement discounts annually.
Mrs. Patience Oniha, Head of the Unit told journalists at a briefing yesterday in Abuja that federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be given price guidelines for their procurements.
She continued; “The strategy is to know the prices of various items at which producers and suppliers sell to other users, especially in the private sector. That will guide us in producing a template of prices within which public purchases can be made.
“We will ensure strict compliance to the guidelines by all MDAs because that is the only way to maintain sanity and guarantee value- for-money, in the interest of the Nigerian public. We are aware that in the private sector, when purchases are made, the volume usually affects the unit price. We want to see that happen in the purchases to be made by MDAs, as we go forward because procurements are usually made in large volumes by the MDAs.
“We, as an Efficiency Unit, we are going to negotiate for favourable terms. Primarily, we are going to talk about price because we are going to get a discount for being a large buyer. From the study we have done, we have discovered that for some items, we can really get very favourable terms. For instance, vehicles, if you are a big consumer of vehicles, the period of warranty and free-service is longer than the terms given to someone who bought only one.”
The Unit head added that work has already commenced on strengthening internal control in the MDAs adding that the view of the policy is to eliminate procurement frauds, such as cases where unscrupulous individuals got paid for items they did not supply, in the past.
“The federal government is running on a zero budgeting policy. What that means is that for every demand that an MDA puts in the budget, it has to justify why it needs it. The question then is , how are we sure that these items are procured because each year we see them re-occurring in the budget. One major aspect of the reform going on now is the overhaul of the internal controls.
“The MDAs have Internal Audit officers who are supposed to validate those stuff before payments are made. We admit that there have been weaknesses but those in that unit are going to be empowered to make sure that they is absolute compliance such that they don’t sign documents to say that items have been delivered when in actual fact they were not delivered. It won’t be business as usual,”
Mrs. Oniha also added that her team had brought the leadership of the National Assembly up to speed and that they have agreed to cooperate with the unit when the bill is brought before them.