Stakeholders seek deployment of technology in procurement process
Procurement experts in the country have called for a new strategy that can aid the nation’s quick recovery, especially in the post-pandemic period.
The procurement experts urged the government to invest in risk management capabilities and digital procurement tools, stressing that the pandemic has disrupted the business world, challenging supply chain reliability, among others.
Speaking at the Nigeria Institution of Procurement engineers (NIProcE), Lagos chapter’s fourth procurement summit, themed: “Public Procurement Transition in the Post COVID-19,” the Chairman, Lagos Chapter, Sam Echedom, said the summit was focused on moving the country towards recovery as it recognised that COVID-19 is not a short-term crisis.
“One of the specific initiatives in the transition is to improve the use of e-procurement for greater efficiency and transparency in public procurement. Leveraging technology through electronic procurement platforms is no longer just an option. Today, it is an absolute imperative,” Echedom stated.
To the Chairman, Planning Committee, Akan Michael, the theme of the summit is apt as the world is in the middle of Post –COVID 19 transition, adding that “there is need to look at public procurement transition in line with the policy, public finance management, the dependence of its effectiveness on the supply chains as well as management and the use of information technologies.”
According to him, the surge in the global e-commerce market could be attributed to the continuous deployment of information technologies as backbone in the procurement process, which is a direct impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that procurement specialists might have to look at the Public Procurement Act, taking into cognisance the need to be open, accountable and adopt technology to drive the process to meet present reality.
“Governments will need to think strategically about the whole procurement policy and process rather than concentrating solely on documentations and transactions,” Michael added.
The guest speaker, Chief Otonye Obom, said public procurement strategies and infrastructure plans are at the frontline of Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Obom said the COVID-19 outbreak brought unprecedented challenges for governments to ensure not only the health of their citizens but also public service continuity.
According to him, there is a need to activate non-essential procurement activities and infrastructure services to contribute to the recovery of the economy and society.
“In a country where accountability and transparency are a challenge, execution of extra budgetary funds is often regarded as sub optimal in terms of efficiency because in the absence of strong safeguards, funds with independent spending authority bypass standard budgetary expenditure control and procurement processes can dilute accountability and weaken fiscal control with corruption vulnerabilities.”
Ken Achugbu, an engineer, said to enable innovation and cooperation, there must be effective relationships between the public, commercial and social sectors.
“Now it is time to digitalise procurement and use it as a growth driver.”
To another engineer, Segun Afolabi, the post COVID-19 era is expected to experience an initial increase in production cost, which depends on basic production factors and subsequently procurement cost may likely be higher than expected.
“Panic purchase must be discouraged to prevent substandard or low quality procurement and work implementation. Appropriate needs assessment will provide the essential details for project prioritisation by defining adequately the importance and benefit of proposed engineering procurement, which will enable adequate procurement process,” Afolabi stated.