BPE: Fraudulent contractors to get 5-year ban
The Federal Government has warned suppliers, contractors or service providers that contravene any provision of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 that they will be banned from participating in all public contracts for a period not less than five years.
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, said on Monday at a workshop in Abuja that the Federal Government has unveiled plans to begin the implementation of the debarment procedure as provided for in the Act.
He stated that apart from the five-year ban, the move would now make it possible for shady firms to pay a fine equivalent to 25 per cent of the value of the procurement in issue.
This, he said, was part of the Federal Government's efforts at ensuring successful implementation of procurement reforms.
The debarment procedure, he noted, had been developed and modelled after other international good practices that existed across the globe.
The BPP boss said Section 6 (e, g and h) of the Public Procurement Act had empowered the bureau to 'debar any supplier, contractor or service provider that contravenes any provision of this Act and regulations.'
He added, 'The law prescribes that the bureau shall have the power to maintain a list of firms and persons that have been debarred from participating in public procurement activity and publish them in the procurement journal.
'We are also empowered to call for such information, documents, records and reports in respect of any aspect of any procurement proceeding where a breach, wrongdoing, default, mismanagement and or collusion had been alleged, reported or proved against a procuring entity or service provider.
'Any legal person that contravenes any provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a cumulative punishment of debarment from all public procurements for a period not less than five years, and a fine equivalent to 25 per cent of the value of the procurement in issue.'
When asked about the objective of the debarment procedure, Ezeh said it would prevent fraud in procurement contracts.
He said, 'What the bureau is trying to implement is not new as it already exists in other climes where the public procurement law has been implemented. The key objective of debarment in public procurement is to ensure prevention and deterrence. For contractors and service providers, debarment means a damaged reputation, list business opportunities and even bankruptcy.
'Hence, contractors and service providers who wish to continue to do business with the Federal Government are, therefore, encouraged to put in place effective and robust anti-corruption mechanisms and procedures in order to avoid debarment.'
The BPP boss listed the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, African Development Bank Group, Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as some of the international organisations championing the debarment procedures.
For instance, he said, 'Records in the public domain as of date reveal the number of debarred individuals and companies: World Bank, 601 debarred with 10 from Nigeria; and Inter-American Development Bank Group, 503 debarred with three from Nigeria.'
Also speaking at the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, said the government would provide the necessary support to ensure the full implementation of the debarment procedure.