By Edrissa Jallow
This publication was first published in the second edition of the Gambia Parliamentary Newsletter which can be downloaded in the link.
Parliament’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) held a briefing session with representatives of Ministries, Public Enterprises and Agencies on Tuesday 7th June 2022 warning them to submit their report or face sanctions and contempt of Parliament.
The meeting featured heads of Government Ministries such as the newly appointed Vice President Hon Alieu Badara Joof, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) Hon Seedy Keita and the Minister of Interior Hon Seyaka Sonko to name a few. The main purpose of the briefing was to highlight the new policy direction of Parliament’s FPAC in relation to their operation and supervising role over Public Institutions.
Speaking to the Head of Government Institutions Vice-Chair Hon Alhagie Mbowe called on all institutions that have not submitted reports from 2016 to 2020 to make sure they “do whatever it takes to ensure that they are compliant because we [FPAC] cannot wait anymore”.
Making reference to their briefing document for the meeting, FPAC Chairperson Hon Alhagie S. Darboe highlighted that “institution/officers shall submit both hard and soft copies of their annual activity reports and audited financial statements to the Office of the Clerk two weeks before the date set for scrutiny. Failure to do so will be considered to be in contempt of the committee and shall call for a reprimand whose nature will be defined by the committee”.
The Chairperson continued to warn all Heads of Institutions present that “all permanent Secretaries and Vote Controllers at Ministries and Departments should be present during the presentation and consideration, to answer questions and make clarifications”.
During the question-and-answer session, FPAC Chairperson Hon Darboe “indicated this time around at the end of the committee session that is June to July , the committee will be compiling its report and report to the plenary”.
Unlike other years “it will not be like accumulating our reports, anytime we end any session we are expected to report to the plenary, whatever has been reported from the respective institutions, exactly this is what we are going to report to the plenary” noted the Chair.
The FPAC Chair concluded by warning Heads of Institutions that “if you are found wanting, well your respective select committee and standing committees will be implementing duly the recommendations that are going to be made by the FPAC Committee”.
A follow-up meeting was held on Friday 10th June 2022 for 13 Institutions which did not attend the FPAC meeting held on 7th June 2022. The FPAC Vice Chair warned Ministers and Heads of Institutions that it will no longer be business as usual. They warned Officials present that if you are summoned to attend you must attend or face contempt. NAMs also urged Institutions to ensure that they have qualified Accountants to keep their books in order.
Institutions submit their Annual Report for scrutiny and in some instances, Institutions have not submitted their documents as required by law. This is leading to a backlog of reports that Parliament should review.