In asustained effort towards resuscitating the Nigerian economy, the bill to amend the Public Procurement Act to provide for and adopt Local Content Policy and timely completion of procurement processes passed second reading at the Senate recently.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Sam Egwu of the PDP, representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District, who noted that the amendment of the Act was necessary in view of the need to encourage Nigerians to patronise home-made goods.
Egwu stated that until the Act was amended, there would be a gap between the consumption of locally-made goods and foreign goods, stressing that when the bill is passed into law, Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) will be mandated to purchase certain percentage of made-in-Nigeria goods.
He stated; “The Federal Government spends billions of Naira to import cars into the country when Innoson Motors and other local manufacturers are not being patronised. We have all the raw materials; we also have the biggest market in Africa, yet we saturate our market with foreign goods.
“The amendment of the bill will go a long way in developing Nigeria to become a world class producer. We should not forget that the love for foreign goods is responsible for the level of unemployment we have in the country today.’’
The lawmaker commended the President of the Senate, Dr BukolaSaraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and other lawmakers for patronising Innoson Motors and other locally-made goods, urging other lawmakers to tow the path of the principal officers by patronising local products.
Egwu charged the lawmakers to support the passage of the bill to give legal backing to locally-produced goods.
Supporting the bill, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Sen. EnyinnayaAbaribe, said that the bill was intended to amend Section 34 of the Public Procurement Act to instruct government agencies to buy local goods, stressing that the amendment of the Act would contribute largely to the development of the economy.
“If we pass the amendment, it will change a key word in the section from `May’ to `Shall’, to make it mandatory for government agencies to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods. This will go a long way to increasing quantity of local goods.
“We want to change the percentage in the Act which made only 15 per cent of procured goods mandatory. We want to change it to a minimum of 50 per cent. This move will bring a ripple effect into the economy to help us out of the current economic situation.’’ Abaribe maintained.
In comment, Sen. Ben Bruce (PDP-Bayelsa East) said that the only way to encourage local producers to improve the quality of locally-made goods was for Nigerians to patronise them, saying that people complained that made-in-Nigeria products were inferior but did not make effort to encourage local manufacturers to improve on the quality of products.
“I have three Innoson vehicles and I have no complaints; even if I have complaints, I will call the company. Innoson is presently fixing a fighter jet and if we can follow his example the country will be better for it,’’ Bruce said.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr BukolaSaraki, commended the sponsor of the Bill for his foresight, saying that amendment of the Act would not only encourage locally-manufactured goods but would ensure prompt implementation of budgets.
“I am delighted that it has passed second reading. In the past, we spent N2 trillion to N3 trillion foreign goods, but with this amendment there would be a reduction. The bill is two-fold because it also addresses the timely implementation of the budget. Before now, processes of budget implementation took months but with this it would be fast,” he said.