- Category: Politics
- Published on Thursday, 27 May 2010 09:15
- Written by 234Next
- Hits: 1992
Members of the House of Representatives have criticised the cost review of the Abuja airport runway contract by the Presidential Project Assessment committee, attacking its timing when a House investigation into the project is uncompleted.
Representatives said the announcement by the committee, set up by President Goodluck Jonathan over a month ago, demonstrates disrespect for the inquiry already conducted by the House into the N63.8 billion job awarded to Julius Berger PLC.
“It is indeed a sad development for the growth of democratic norms and values, whereby it is expected that the various arms of government would show respect to each other and work in harmony to ensure good governance,” said Bethel Amadi, the chairman of the House Aviation committee which carried out the investigation.
The submission by the presidency comes four days after the House Aviation committee laid its own report for consideration by the general assembly. “We are yet to consider the report in which people were clearly indicted,” said Dino Melaye, the member who first drew the attention of the House to the deal.
“We should compel the federal government to stop everything that has to do with that contract.”
The House on Tuesday ruled that it will consider the presidency’s intervention in the contract Thursday, and voted to treat it as a matter of urgent public importance.
A possible resolution from that may compel the presidency to enforce the previous suspension order on the contract, until the Aviation committee’s report is decided by the House.
Mr. Amadi’s committee, mandated by a resolution of the House on March 2010, probed the terms and cost of the award where series of procedural failures by aviation authorities and government procurement officials, were uncovered.
The committee was mandated to question why the construction of a 4.4km second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, should cost N63.8 billion - an amount said to be enough for a new airport.
The contract agreement, though commenced early 2009, was approved December 2009 by a federal executive council chaired by Mr. Jonathan, while his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, was away on medical trip.
As acting president, Mr. Jonathan constituted the Project Assessment committee, with the mandate to review major contracts of the federal government. In its report released Monday, the presidential committee recommended a cost cut of N14.2 billion, bringing the total amount for the job to N49.6 billion. At the same time, the lawmakers await a consideration that will touch on the cost and other areas of the investigation.
Fifth reduction of Berger’s estimates
The reduction itself will be the fifth granted by Julius Berger, since it began initial bidding for the job. The company had first quoted N83 billion, scaling it down to N72 billion due to “omissions and mathematical errors.” On the recommendation of consultants appointed by government, the amount dropped further to N65.5 billion and then a further N63.8 billion, before the final N49.6 announced by the presidential committee.
Mr. Amadi said the presidency’s action was “unfortunate and preemptive” and has shown no clarity on the basis of the “generous” cost reduction.
“We are concerned that the contractor has to date given a total discount of about N31 billion, since its initial bid, which is more than the N30.2 billion quoted by the lowest evaluated responsive bidder during the initial evaluation,” he said.
He said the investigation carried out, showed several breach of procurement rules, and wondered how the reduction alone can rectify the deficiencies.