By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement on Thursday rebuked the Bureau of Public Procurement over a ‘frivolous’ expenditure of N57million on local and international travels and N22 million spent on welfare packages for staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While N52,073,305 was expended on local travel N5,697,055 was spent on international travels.
The Committee also faulted the BPP for failing to audit government agencies as directed in its establishment act, as the lawmakers noted that only 32 ministries, departments and agencies out of over 850 agencies were discovered to have been audited so far.
The Committee also raised concerns over the duplication of subheads like training, human development, monitoring and evaluation and surveillance, which seem to mean the same thing as observed by Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC- Abia).
The House also demanded the audit report of the BPP between 2016 to 2019 to be submitted before the end of the year.
The following observations and resolutions were reached by the House Committee during a budget defence session with the BPP.
This followed a query raised by Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) on the agency’s 2020 budget performance.
The committee was also piqued by the expenditure of N19 million for local and international training of staff.
The lawmakers also queried the inefficiency of BPP on monitoring, surveillance and call centre management whereby the sum of N22 million and N38 million was released but left unspent.
Meanwhile, documents submitted by BPP to the Committee revealed that a deputy director in account department from Bade local government of Yobe State by name Lantewa Fatsuma Lawal whose date of birth reads 1996 on the agency’s nominal roll was employed in the year 1992 and was promoted to the rank of a deputy director in January 2019.
According to the chairman of the Committee, Rep. Ali Nasiru Ahmad (Kano- APC): “this Committee mandates you to make available all audit reports of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Consistently, funds have been appropriated for procurement agencies only 32 out of the over 850 that we have”.
On his part, the Director-General of BPP, Rep. Mamman Ahmadu informed the Committee that shortage of funds was responsible for their ineffectiveness in carrying out an audit of government agencies. Also, he explained that the discrepancy in the date of birth and date of employment was a typographical error.
Consequently, the DG could hardly give an explanation to most of the questions raised by the Committee members which bothered on repetition of budget items and excess expenditure on travels.
Ossai in raising his motion demanded that ” the Committee should constitute a technical committee to investigate all contracts of BPP.
“Also application of appropriated funds for the purpose of audit from 2015 to 2019 should also be accounted for. Again, did you receive any funds for procurement audit in 2019” he asked.
In his response, the DG stated that, “we do not have the record. We are not sure, however, the reason for low performance in auditing is due to lack of funds”, he claimed.