FG to review housing sector procurement requirements and guidelines
Minister of Power, works and housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola on Wednesday signalled federal plans to review the present procurement requirements and guidelines in the housing sector, which according to him do not favour smaller businesses and players.
Fashola particularly signalled the government may review upwards the current 15 percent mobilisation fee to the sector contractors and as well, put in place conditions which consider the level of literacy of the vast majority of the Nigerians and the nature of their small businesses.
“One of the directives that I have given to our staff is to review the procurement requirements and guidelines in consultation with our legal department, to ensure that we open the opportunities for participation.
“My experience in the last 20 months is that small businesses have difficulty complying with our procurement process and this requires not only policy reviews as I have ordered, but also legislative intervention by parliament,” Fashola stated, speaking at the 6TH National Council on Land, Housing and Urban development on Thursday IN Abuja.
“This is one of the actions we must take to fulfil the objectives of the theme of this Council so that we can build for inclusion, for growth and for prosperity,” he added.
Fashola said though he understands the need for government to get value for money and all the processes put in place by previous administrations to guide procurement, but the big question remains whether the country has truly saved money and developed since it has been operating those tough guidelines.
He said based on available evidence, the country has clearly made more money from oil sales in the last decade that cannot be accounted for by way of project delivery and infrastructure development.
“But if this was not enough problem, the procurement requirements then limits the amount of advance payment Government can pay to 15 percent and sets conditions that overlook the level of literacy of the vast majority of our people and the nature of small businesses that they run,” he argued.
He said the reviews were needed as one of the actions to fulfil much needed inclusion, for growth and prosperity.
He further said while the National Housing Programme, is the first of its type on a National scale in many decades that seeks to respond to the deficit, government agencies such as the Federal Mortgage Bank, Federal Housing Authority are being repositioned to play their role more effectively to address the Housing problem.
He said for instance, the Federal Housing Authority has been mandated by the ministry to reposition herself to be one of our champions of housing delivery based on her previous track record.
Similarly, the Federal Mortgage Bank, according to him, continues to deepen participation in the National Housing Fund which forms a reliable pool of funding from which she lends money to contributors by way of mortgage loans to acquire houses.
According to him, the bank has granted loans to estate developers to build houses; and that from their recent reports, currently have 3,823 housing units available for sale in various states of the Federation.
“The ministry has directed that these units, their prices, description, location and eligibility criteria be widely publicized in transparent offers to interested members of the public,” Fashola stated.
He further announced that the next level of intervention which the ministry is developing is to use co-operatives as critical elements to the much needed inclusion.
“Our experience has shown that very sizable parts of our population who are productive and self-employed have been excluded from formal processes that regulate access to Funding, land or housing,” the minister stated.
He argued, however, that these large number of people operate successfully by themselves, in groups which they form as co-operatives to protect their common interests and pursue their developmental objectives, as he urged the council members to come up with how their respective states could contribute to such initiative.
On the national housing program, Fashola stated that the government has formulated a national program by concept, design and now at a pilot stage implementation, which in the early stages opportunities for 653 contractors, and created 13,680 direct jobs and 41,000 indirect jobs.
“What we must do therefore is to repeat this program year on year, not only at federal level but also at state level,” he directed.
The minister was confident that if this is successfully implemented, coupled with the housing cooperatives, leverage of private sector capacity, as well as strengthen FHA and FMBN to play their roles, the country would be creating a housing economy that would irreversibly and positively transform the nation.
Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja
Big Read |