By Muhammad Bah
The National Assembly Members on Tuesday 28th October 2014 made their observations regarding serious financial lapses relating to government financial and assets management system and noted the lack of adequate seriousness in dealing with parliamentary recommendations.
This debate was held during the Public Account and Public Enterprise Committee’s joint Session in Banjul, to scrutinize public institutions and public enterprises in ensuring accountability, probity and transparency in government finance and related administrative activities.
During the debate, the Deputy Speaker Hon. Fatou Mbye said the committee has discovered that many of the recommendations made to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) to regulate the government financial problems are not adequately worked out.
She first highlighted the misuse of the contingency funds which still stands unregulated by the Ministry and not made clear to NAMs. She said National Assembly Members would like to know the measures put in place to tackle these misused contingency funds. She also lamented the GIA loan to government and said it is still not clear how much they still owed to government. Hon. Mbye dilates on the retired imprests concerning government money and asked why they are also still not available to the Ministry.
The Member for Serrekunda East and the Majority Leader said government officials clearly understood the financial rules and regulations put in place and why there is financial miscalculation and lack of clarity to the use of government finances. He said action must be taken to stop these practices such as unattached payment vouchers which all of them know is illegal. Hon. Jatta said the same problem is repeated every year and is unacceptable. He said that government officials who are found violating the financial rules and regulation should be held accountable.
The Independent Member for Basse, Muhammed Magassey, argued that there is no clarity about the issues and he does not understand why information on the 50% sale of Gamcel/ Gamtel is not with the MoFEA Ministry. He also asked about the 5 million dollar outstanding balance.
The Minority Leader and Member of Namina Dankunku, Hon. Samba Jallow, pointed that he understands that there is no transparency concerning the sale of Gamtel/ Gamcel 50% as information about the issue is still not available with MoFEA. He said the country’s intelligence officers should be engaged to launch an investigation into the matter.
The Permanent Secretary at MoFEA, Mr. Abdoulie Bah told lawmakers that to implement the recommendation on the misused contingency funds requires time and could be around 2015 or thereabout. He highlighted that information on retired imprests is difficult to get especially in the embassies. He said to remit the monies is difficult and involves some financial costs. However he promised NAMs that there is a plan on the way to remedy that situation. He said the issue of Gamcel/ Gamtel is not clear to his understanding; adding that the Assembly can engage those two institutions to find out. He stressed the weakness of government public enterprises. He pointed out that this even delayed their auditing process as they compete to be audited by private firms because of the limited auditing firms in the country. He finally promised that they would help GRTS to regain the money owed to them by government institutions.