Plans ongoing to review ICRC Act – D-G
Plans to review the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act 2005 to address and amend certain provisions are underway.
The Acting Director-General (D-G), Mr Micheal Ohiani made this known on Sunday in Abuja, while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the operations of the organisation.
Ohiani said that having operated the Act over the years, there were certain provisions that needed amendment while there were some provisions that should be in the Act to make it more robust that were not there.
“Before ICRC came into being, there were some projects we call Legacy Projects that did not have Outline Business Case (OBC) certificates issued to them to show the bankability and the commercial viability of such projects.
“We have problems with such projects. However, moving forward what happens is that before a project is signed, you have the Contract Agreement, it is the Bible or Quran of the project.
“So there are in built terms and condition if you default and the appropriate sanctions are embedded in the contract.
“So what we do is that to ensure compliance with the terms of agreement you have signed up, there are sanctions for each if you default on the project.
“Having operated our Act over the years, we are trying to review it and make it more robust so that it will take care of some of the shortcomings that we noticed in the cause of operating the Act.”
Although, the D-G did not give the exact stage the planned review was presently, he assured that when completed, it would boost the activities of the organisation.
On sanctions for defaulting concessionaires, he said that in a contract agreement, if the concessionaire failed to fulfil the terms of the concession, such would be sanctioned.
“There is the KPI, the Key Performance Indicator embedded in the contract, if you do not abide by this, there are repercussions.
“One interesting thing you also need to note is that a concessionaire will not want to default so that he will be able to recoup his investment, it is in his own interest to carry out the obligation.
“This is because the cash flow that he gets from the implementation of the concession agreement is what he uses to defray the loans he obtained from the bank.”
He also said that the commission carries out periodic monitoring and where there was an issue quickly steps in to handle the matter.
He made reference to the issue of vandalism of vehicles at the Lagos International Airport’s multi-level car park and based on the terms of the contract, the concessionaire was able to pay for the damages.
On its collaboration with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to deliver on infrastructure to Nigerians, Ohiani assured that none of the responsibilities of ICRC had been taken over by BPE.
He said that rather, both organisations had a very good working relationship and with the issuance of the circular on ‘Administration of Concession Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria, it had gotten better.
The circular was issued following the absence of clear distinction between the functions of ICRC and BPE and its consequences on investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy.
“What happened was that prior to coming on board of ICRC, BPE used concession as one of the modes of the privatisation and commercialisation.
“ICRC is statutorily charged with Public Private Partnership (PPP) regulatory oversight and we are not unmindful of the fact that recently, a circular was issued by the Federal Government.
“It is called Administration of Concession Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria and it came out on Sept. 14 2020.
“But as a government and responsible agency, once a circular has been issued, all public officers have to comply with the circular.
However, in complying with the circular, you do not break existing laws. It has to be in tandem with existing laws and that has even been underscored by the circular too.
“We are working seamlessly with BPE to ensure the implementation of the circular, in fact, about two weeks ago, BPE sent us a list of projects they want us to gazette.
“The infrastructure gap in the country is too big, so you need all the agencies to work together.
“We are working for the same government, so all we do is to collaborate so that at the end of the day, the President’s agenda in trying to deliver to the ordinary Nigerian, the infrastructure benefit is achieved by mutual, interagency collaboration and cooperation.”
According to him, for all PPP processes in the country involving Federal Government enterprises, ICRC issues the guideline, certificate of compliance and the Full Business Case (FBC) certificate which is taken to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval before such projects can commence.
Ohiani also said that there was strong collaboration between the organisation and the state governments to promote infrastructure development through PPP and that about 29 states had established their PPP units.
He said that to enhance this, there was a PPP network which meets quarterly hosted under the aegis of the Governor’s Forum, while ICRC acts as secretariat to coordinate and align the Federal Government PPP levels with state government PPP.
“By this, we know the challenges they are encountering and we advise, we also subject each state to a form of peer review mechanism to see where you are doing right and if there are challenges, how do they go about it?
“More importantly, where the state government wants to carry out a PPP project that is under the exclusive legislative list, it has to be guided to abide by the standards set by ICRC.”