Nigeria has deployed a new portal called the price checker to harmonise prices and ensure transparency in the procurement process.
Mr Aliyu Aliyu, the Head, Regulation and Database, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), said this at the sensitisation of procurement officers on price checker and e-procurement in Abuja.
The sensitisation was organised by the Efficiency Unit of the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with BPP.
Aliyu said that the platform, a web-based one, was designed to allow vendors of non-customised goods to upload their prices to allow for a more transparent procurement process.
He added that “this is to ensure that government at all levels do not spend money on excessively priced items.
“This way, we all would have an idea of what the prices are (were) and when we publish procurement records, we could check if a Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA) bought it for a price that was higher than what was posted on the portal.
“The measure is to bring about more transparency and bring the market closer to the people.”
Aliyu said that the price-checker was not confined to the Federal Government because states that were desirous of such solution were already demanding for it.
He added that the portal became necessary with the use of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).
He explained that “a study was carried out and it was revealed that there was serious disparity in prices of goods purchased by MDAs, hence the need for price checker.
“The price checker has multipurpose function. First, it is a checker to determine prices and when you have finished your procurement, to know how much you finally purchased your items.
“It has a use at the beginning and at the end so when you look at it from beginning to end, it serves its purpose and it will still be used with the 2019 budget to check those things we will buy.”
He, however said that it was within the BPP’s mandate to come up with various regulations and frameworks to guide the implementation of the portal.
Mr Ojonimi Imaji, the Head, Efficiency Unit, said that with the portal, the huge disparities experienced in government procurement in the past would be eradicated.
He said that the price checker was targeted at non-customised items such as computer equipment, stationery, vehicles and other office equipment.
According to him, it is not intended to change the procurement process as it is today, rather, it is to enhance it.
He added that the main objective was to build a scalable and sustainable system to access real-time information on prices of goods.
He noted that “it would also be used to calculate the prices of goods against the budgeted price and control the prices stated in the budget across MDAs”.
He added that it would also generate an electronic market survey report to serve as guide for contract negotiation and contract award, explaining that “instead of physically going out to meet vendors to do market survey, you can now do it in the comfort of your office or from a device wherever you are.”
He, however, said that as a vendor, being on the platform would not guarantee qualification for patronage by government.
He said that the criteria for any vendor to qualify to be patronised by government contained in the Public Procurement Act (PPA) was still applicable.
Imaji said that though the price checker was developed by the Efficiency Unit, the full implementation would be handled by the BPP after the sensitisation of procurement officers on its use.
He added that the sensitisation had been carried out in the six geo-political zones and Lagos State.
The Efficiency Unit was created in 2015 to ensure the most efficient use of resources with all opportunities to make savings, avoid waste, block leakages and increase productivity.
The BPP was established by the PPA, 2007 as the regulatory authority responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement with the aim of building and sustaining an efficient procurement system that meets international best practices.