Health Ministry Calls For Financial Discipline In Project Execution

In an apparent bid to curtail wastage of funds and to also assess impact of Government health programs on the life of average Nigerians, the Health Ministry has tasked it’s stakeholders to be prudent in the execution of project funds allocated to them.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mahmuda Mamman disclosed this at the “Stakeholders Engagement To Analyse Health Sector’s 2022 Budget, Its Implementation and Monitoring” Meeting, held in Abuja on Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Mahmuda who was represented by the Director of Health Planning and Statistics, Dr. Ngozi Azodo noted that it was imperative to pay particular attention towards cost effectiveness and diligence in the execution of health projects and programmes.

He added that, this was necessary to ensure that the public being the target, get value for money as envisioned in the mandate of the Ministry.

In this regard, Mahmuda assured that Government would not hesitate to give its maximum support in this direction and will as well not relent to sanction any breach of laid down procedures.

Consequently, He disclosed that one of the objectives of the engagement was to review the 2021 Budget performance and analyse 2022 Budget to ensure the delivery of the Health Sector’s mandate.

“You will recall that in my address during the bilateral discussions on preparation of the 2022 budget by Departments, Agencies and Parastatals under the Ministry, held in August 2021, I drew your attention to the fact that projected revenues and expenditures for the year 2022 by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP) fell short of the year 2021 projections and actuals owing to Federal Government low revenues, increasing personnel and pensions as well as debt services cost.

“I consequently enjoined you to project funds for completion of on-going projects especially those nearing completion and give emphasis on actual NEEDS priorities in the Medium Term National Development Plan (MINDP) 2021-2025 rather than new projects.

“As you are aware, Monitoring and Evaluation helps in identifying the most valuable ond efficient ways of utilization of resources as well as being critical for developing objective conclusions on how projects and programmes can be adjudged successful”, Mahmuda explained.

Cross-section of participants at the meeting

Similarly, the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, while delivering his speech, described how his Commission enforces execution of federal funded projects at the standard of qualitative value for money.

This, he explained was through project tracking and monitoring of which the Health Sector was a beneficiary.

Owasanoye further explained that the Commission had monitored health sector-related projects in all its tracking exercises and followed through to ensure that unexecuted and/or abandoned projects were completed while completed ones were followed up to ensure they were put to use.

Citing some project funds currently in controversial circumstances, the ICPC Boss exposited: “Most recently we monitored the implementation of capital for the Federal Ministry of Health for 2020 and 2021. We made recoveries bordering on nonexecution of health related trainings and non-adherence to specification in the supply of some medical equipment.

“For instance, a total sum of N3.8m was recovered from a two-day project comprising Hall rent and lunch cost in respect of training of staff in the Ministry’s headquarters that was not executed.

“We are currently investigating some contractors with a view to establishing collusion between them and officials of the ministry. Investigation is equally ongoing on some COVID -19 related spending in some health institutions and the findings thus far is not too palatable.

“The procurement lapses identified in most of the tracked projects were many and evidence to establish them is being collated. The lapses include overinvoicing and use of the Bill of Engineering Management and Evaluation (BEME) that lack detailed specifications for contracts. Trackers were not able to tell in absolute sense what quality of work was envisaged”.

He however said further to corruption allegations handled and review activities carried out by the Commission in the sector and subsequent suspension of procurement activities, it was expected that lessons were learnt and a new leaf turned to sanitize the process for better service delivery and accountability.

Speaking on the way forward, the ICPC Czar stated: “We recommend among other things that Bills of Quantities be used for procurement purposes since they are more detailed in descriptions and specifications.

“This will help whoever is supervising or tracking the projects to have more details to track what is being executed. Ultimately it will prevent Contractors from doing poor jobs on the excuse that there are not enough details”, he said.

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