By Muhammad Bah
The Joint Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee of the National Assembly, chaired by the Speaker, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, last Thursday, 31 October 2014, issued a statement on its position on the queries raised by the Auditor General against the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.
In its joint statement, it instructed the Ministry of Finance represented by Mr. Abdoulie Jallow, the Permanent Secretary, to take action and respond to the Auditor General’s queries before 28 December 2014. The committee further asks the ministry to sanction or punish officials refusing to follow the government financial instruction (FI) system.
In his intervention, Hon. Fabakary T. Jatta, the house majority leader and National Assembly Member for Serekunda East, expressed his support for government to punish and sanction officials. He said the Gambia is small and therefore her meager resources must be properly managed. He said the situation of not attaching payment vouchers or supporting documents is a deliberate act and should be stopped. He said over 6 million dalasi was missing because of this attitude, adding that the misuse of contingency funds and unretired impress must be regulated by the Finance ministry.
The Deputy Speaker, Fatou Mbye, asked whether the ministry is in incapable of doing its work and if so the National Assembly will intervene. She added that the ministry was empowered by an Act to sanction and punish individuals for financial irregularities.
Hon. Mam Cherno Jallow, National Assembly Member for Upper Nuimi, noted that the problem of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) is a serious concern to them and asked the PS what they have done to recover the money lost by GRA. He said GRA is an important institution and the country’s development relies on it and that the deliberate action of missing money cannot be tolerated.
For his part, Hon. Lamin K. Jammeh, National Assembly Member for Illiasa Constituency asked about the 300,000 dalasi that reportedly went missing from the government accounts caused by an official at the Gambia Embassy in Guinea Bissau.
The Ministry was rated 97% in accordance with Gambia Public Procurement Authority rules and the despite the numerous queries, the report was adopted by the committee of the whole House.