Aminu Diko, Director General of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) on Tuesday stressed the need to improve the capacity of all the MDAs to structure and develop bankable projects that will attract private sector funds in line with international best practices.
Diko and other stakeholders who converged at the National Assembly, Abuja at the public hearing held at the instance of House Committee on Special Duties,chaired by Nasiru Daura, expressed overwhelming support for the overhaul of extant laws on public private partnership (PPP) initiatives.
Some of the major projects being executed under PPP include: 8 small and medium dams, concession of four international airports: Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt; Concession of narrow gauge Eastern railway (Port Harcourt to Maiduguri) and Western (Lagos-Kano) railway lines; Ibom Deep sea port project, Concession of 33 silos; National Theater and Culture Centres; Kirikiri Port Lighter Terminal I & II; Lekki Deep Sea Port and Development of Deep Sea Port in Badagry, Lagos.
While applauding the proposed amendment of the public private partnership regulatory commission bill, Diko called for amendment of section 1(3 & 4) with the view to ensure that “all PPP projects, including those entered into prior to the establishment of the commission come under the purview of the agency.
With the new amendments, all ministries, departments agencies, Corporation or body by whatever name called may enter into PPP contract with any project proponent in the private sector for the design, finance, construction, operation, management or maintenance of any infrastructure, service or any development facility of public infrastructure shall comply with the PPP procurement laws.
“In all public private project procurement, the provisions of this bill shall prevail. If any other law on PPP project procurement is inconsistent with the provisions of this bill, that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void,” section 1(4) stated.
Diko further explained that the proposed amendments were designed to ensure entrenchment of a robust and sustainable PPP regime, reduce time spent on developing projects by addressing the issue of projects being presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) twice, provide for appropriate sanctions to ensure compliance.
When signed into law by the Presidency, the PPP policy is expected to provide wide range of policy options that could open new sources of finance, alleviate chronic under-investment in capital projects and may allow off-balance sheet borrowing, allocation of risks to party best able to manage or absorb them, among others.
According to the ICPC helmsman, some of the challenges facing the commission include: strong attachment and preference by MDAs for traditional procurement and lack of funding for both pre and post contract activities which limit the commission’s ability to appraise project under development properly and also monitor projects under implementation to nature efficient execution of the PPP contracts.
He also decried the insufficient capacity of MDAs to structure and develop bankable projects that will attract private sector funds.
In his opening address, Nasiru Daura, chairman, House Committee on Special Duties explained that the proposed amendments seek to strengthen and enhance the supervisory role of the Commission for more effective private sector participation in government projects.
“It is a truism to position that PPP arrangements, which is a major policy thrust of the Federal Government will form the bedrock of infrastructure development of the country. This bill when passed will go a long way in accelerating the process.
“The public private partnership arrangement is definitely a win-win situation as it enables the sharing of the skills and assets of the public and private sectors, in delivering excellent service or facility for the use of the public.
“It is thus very important to strengthen the capacity of the commission to attracting more private participation, in financing and operation of infrastructural and developmental pjects, as the bill before us intends to do,” Daura said.