Development Planning and Projects Continuity Bill, 2016
OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL
The objectives of the Bill are:
NUMBER OF CLAUSES/PARTS
The Bill has 6 parts and 32 clauses, including the interpretation and short title. The schedule page contains details on the objectives of the vision 20:2020
The Bill has the following contents: -
IMPLICATIONS OF THE BILL
1. Establishment of Project Implementation Plans (PIP) and Development Plans
The Bill under Clause 1 provides for the establishment and maintenance of project implementation plans by each tier of government of the federation for the implementation of projects within their jurisdiction from inception to conclusion. Each tier of government is expected to produce short and medium term development plans within the meaning of vision 20:2020 objectives 3 months after the passage of the Bill.
The development plans should be for a period of 6 years for the Federal Government, 4 years for the State governments and 2 years for the Local governments. The differences in the terms may be questionable in regards to why the States should have 4 year plans and the LGAs have 2-year plans.
2. Abandoned Project: - The Bill seeks to make it unlawful for a government of the federation to have an abandoned project in any part of Nigeria. In effect, every structure in Nigeria from the time of the passage of the Bill shall be completed and abandoning a government funded project before completion will attract penalties pursuant to the provisions of the Bill.
3. Project Development Plan: - Clause 3 of the Bill lists the contents of the Plan to include the goal of the project, funding sources and implementation, environmental impact assessment and economic priorities of the particular tier of government. The effect is that before any tier of government releases funding for a project, there must have already been an assessment done in order to determine the contents and populate the plan. This means that additional funding to pay for the assessment will be required, though the cost may be included in the budget for the project.
4. Establishment of a Register of Projects: - The Bill requires that a Register of Projects (RoP) be kept by a tier of government to serve as an inventory for all projects within that jurisdiction, which should have a list of completed and uncompleted projects. The RoP shall be published at the beginning of every financial year and shall include project cost, purpose, date and any other relevant information. This register is a good tracking tool for project implementation and could ensure that projects are actually completed and not abandoned.
5. Implementing Institutions: - The Bill lists the implementing agencies as the National Planning Commission for the Federal Government; the Ministry of Economic Planning or its equivalent for each State Government; and the Planning Department for the LGAs. As the tasks involved all bother around project implementation, the procurement agencies like the Bureau of Public Procurement need to be the implementing body.
6. Submission of Development Plan: - The development plan produced by any tier of government shall be submitted to the Minister responsible for National Planning for verification as to whether the development plan is in compliance with the vision 20:2020. For every plan that is submitted and verified, a Certificate of Compliance is issued. Any development plans with no certification means that they have not been verified by the NPC, therefore should not be implemented.
7. Power to Review Development Plan: - The Minister shall have power to review a development plan if in the opinion of the Minister it contains matters that are in conflict with vision 20:2020 or lacks any of the relevant data necessary for the effective execution of the project. The Minister also may exercise the powers conferred under Clause 2(2) and direct or call for the reproduction of the development plan within a specified time to be in compliance with vision 20:2020. The Bill specifically mentioned the Minister as the reviewer of the development plan; in effect no other official shall have the power to review unless specified by the Bill.
8. Joint Development Plan: - The Bill provides that it shall be lawful for two or more States or LGAs to draw up a joint development plan. States or LGAs requiring to present a joint development plan must be geographically contiguous and share common boundaries, present a memorandum duly signed by the States or LGAs, establish a joint development committee with membership drawn from all participating States and LGAs.
Where the States or LGAs wish to dissolve a joint development plan, they may do so by a memorandum duly executed by the parties and a notification to that effect shall be submitted to the Minister. The Bill further requires that a joint development plan shall not be set aside until after 12 months from the date of adoption or execution, which ever comes later. The joint development plan is expected therefore to indicate the contributions of all parties executing the plan and state how the project would be completed should they dissolve the plan before the completion of the project.
9. Directive to Monitor: - The Bill under Clause 12 grants the Minister the power to issue directive to any agency under his responsibility to monitor the compliance and implementation of development plans at all tiers of government. The reports on the monitoring are to be filed with the Minister biannually and shall contain progress of the implementation, enforcement mechanism and other relevant information. In effect there could be more than one agency monitoring implementation progress at any level of government.
10. Power to Make Regulations: - Clause 13 of the Bill gives the Minister the power to make regulations that are necessary for the efficient implementation of the provisions of the Bill (when passed into law). The regulations may include guidelines and procedure, nature and extent of consultation, issuance of notices and penalty for breach of the provisions. The Bill may be giving the Minister too many powers by the contents of this Clause. The Bill (when passed into law) should outline the regulations while the Minister implements.
11. Petition on Contents of a Development Plan: - The Bill makes it lawful for any person who feels aggrieved by the content of any development plan to petition to the Minister, Commissioner for Planning, as the case may be. The grievance may arise due to the amount allocated for the projects (which may be over inflated) or the project may not be reasonable in terms of timeline or any other related issue. The Clause specifically stated that the petition shall be issued ‘by hand of the petitioner signed, sealed and delivered…’ Where the petitioner cannot physically come to the Ministry or Agency to hand deliver the petition, the Bill did not offer any other alternative mean of delivery.
When the petition is received, a review of 21 days is effected from the day of receipt and the Minister, Commissioner or Head of Planning may cause an appropriate response to the petitioner.
12. Establishment of a Federal Projects Execution Committee: - Under Clause 15, the Bill establishes a Federal Projects Execution Committee to formulate and provide guidelines for the management of its affairs, and carry out functions and activities, which in the opinion of the Committee are necessary to ensure their efficient performance. The Bill presents this committee as a stand-alone, independent body to enable the implementation or execution of projects. This role should be played by the agency directed by the tier of government, which has jurisdiction over the project (as already provided under Clause 6 of the Bill). This creates a duplication of roles.
The Bill requires that both States and LGAs establish their equivalent committees to carry out required functions
13. Establishment of the Committee Fund: - Clause 21 establishes a fund, which shall be funded by moneys available by the Federal government, fees and other funds payable to the Committee, loans or grants by the Federal government. All expenditure of the Committee shall be paid for by the Fund. The Committee is also tasked with keeping proper accounts in respect of each year and proper records; and shall be audited by any auditor approved by the Auditor-General of the Federation. The Committee may also accept gifts in cash as well as donations.
14. Reporting to the Minister: - The Committee shall prepare and submit to the Minister periodically, a report in such as the Minister may direct, on the activities of the Committee including an audited report.
15. Powers of the Committee: - The Committee shall have the powers to investigate whether a person has violated any provision of the Bill (when passed into law) and to forward the person’s name to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) for a timely prosecution. In effect violation of any provision of this Bill constitutes an offence liable for prosecution by the AGF.
16. Offences and Penalties: - The Bill under Clause 27 lists the following as offences liable to sanctions: project abandonment; refusal to publish register of projects; refusal to produce information lawfully demanded; misappropriation of funds; willful destruction of property and any many others. The penalties under this Bill include official reprimand, forfeiture of salary, demotion, removal from office, suspension, surcharge, payment of fines, etc.
17. Failure to Comply: - A person who fails to comply shall upon conviction be liable to a fine of up to N100,000 (for an individual) and up to N2million for a corporate body. However where a person causes to be published any false information relied upon for planning purposes under this Bill, upon conviction is liable to up to 3 years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000 or both. Where an institutional responsibility is provided for in this Bill, the head of the institution shall ensure the performance of such responsibility and where he fails to do so, he commits an offence punishable under this Bill (when it is passed into law).
18. Jurisdiction: - The Federal High Court or High Court of a State shall have jurisdiction over any matter arising under this Bill (when passed into law)
19. Technical Assistance: - State governments of the Federation shall ensure the provision of technical and financial assistance including training, human capacity development, transfer of technology to LGA Councils for the successful implementation of the provisions of the Bill. The source of the funds for the technical and financial assistance are not clearly stated in the Bill.
ANY SIMILAR EXISTING BILL
A similar Bill currently before the House of Representatives titled “ Development Planning and Projects Continuity Bill” (HB 593) sponsored by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai
The Development Planning and Projects Continuity Bill is a welcome development in the infrastructure sector. It seeks to ensure project continuity and completion. It would also ensure proper monitoring and documentation of projects for tracking in a transparent manner.
However, certain Clauses appear arbitrary in their provisions. Clause 13 empowers the Minister of National Planning to make regulations necessary for the efficient implementation of the provisions of the Bill and among other things, determine the nature and extent of the consultation with and participation by the public. The reason why this Bill is necessary is for projects to be completed in order to serve the citizens, and yet the Minister would control the extent of their participation.
There seems to also be a duplication of functions as Clause 6 lists agencies responsible for implementing the provisions of the Bill and yet a Committee is established under Clause 15, which in addition to investigating violations of the provisions of this Bill shall be responsible for executing projects. The relevant departments of the government agencies under Clause 6 can implement projects and the establishment of a Federal Projects Execution Committee would not be needed