By Kebba Jeffang
Information and Communication Infrastructure Minister, Demba Jawo, confirmed to journalists that the contract of his deputy permanent secretary, Malick Jones, has been terminated by the Office of the President.
Mr. Jawo did not elucidate when the termination took effect but said Mr. Jones was retired and has been serving a contract before his termination.
“Recently, his contract was terminated but the termination actually came from the Office of the President and as to why, I am definitely not in a position to say because I need to find out why his contract was terminated,” he said. But he justified that the term of the contract was that any party can terminate it by giving notice or the Office of the President can terminate it and that is exactly what had happened.
Meanwhile, on the issue of the Interior Ministry being housed in a 3 million annual rental office situated in Kotu, Mr. Jawo said they can understand the financial distress of the country but that the working environment is also important. He said where the office of the ministry was housed in Banjul was not convenient and argued that a good working condition for the people can make them more productive. “It was necessary definitely to find a more convenient environment for them. We have to balance some of these things. The expense is one thing but the environment that we work in is another thing and productivity is very important. If people are more productive they can produce more for the good of the economy as well,” he said.
Responding to a question on whether the President has assented to the ‘upper age’ limit bill recently passed by the National Assembly, Mr. Jawo said he is not in a position to confirm that. He however said since there is a time frame given for the president to assent to approved bills, he would guess that he has signed it into law.
On the 2 term limit “I can assure you that government is very much interested in introducing a term limit in our next elections.” He reiterated that the constitutional overhaul and general review will take care of those issues.
Addressing issues related to the closure of the ‘Daily Observer’, he said the paper is under receivership because it has been mentioned as one of the assets connected to the former President; that while that process was on and because ‘Observer’ owes the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) quite a lot of money as tax arrears, GRA decided to take the matter to court. ‘‘As you know courts are completely independent of the executive. The executive has taken a decision to put the ‘Observer’ under receivership while the court is also working on the process of the GRA case. And they have decided to close down the Observer until they can pay the GRA,” said the Minister.
Mr. Jawo assured that they will work to see how best to reconcile the two and said they wouldn’t want to see the Observer staff out of job. According to him, that is not in the interest of anyone and they will work to see the news company back on the newsstands again.