By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Parliament’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) has flagged up two instances of financial irregularities between President Adama Barrow’s Office and GAI Enterprise owned by Mr Serign Hadim Gai. Earlier in September 2023, Parliament adopted the FPAC Report with amendments which reveal financial malpractices observed by Auditors and recommend actions to be taken by various government institutions.
According to the report, the D17.48 million rehabilitation of State House and the award of the $35.72 million Banjul Drainage, Road and Sewage Project (Banjul Project) have been awarded to Gai Enterprise through the use of single sourcing and no evidence of due diligence being followed in the Banjul Project. FPAC Reports that these projects have been marred with irregularities such as failure to adhere to GPPA’s Conditional Approval and failure to Gazette the award of the Banjul Project.
The irregularities highlight the President’s Office’s refusal to follow the financial procedures but don’t look at the quality of the finished works. Our reporter visited Banjul in August 2022 and published an article which shows that the works were not complete by then, however, the Auditors report that Gai Enterprise was fully paid prior to the completion of the works.
Flaws in D17.48 Million Rehabilitation of State House
Parliament’s report depicts how things started to go wrong from the beginning with the use of single sourcing and noncompliance with instalment payments. One of the inappropriate procurement processes by the Office of the President flagged up by the report states that “approval was sought for the use of single source well after the rehabilitation work was completed which is a gross violation of the GPPA regulations.”
Similarly, “goods bought from Fatima Trading amounting to D5,637,000.00 were delivered to the Office of the President before requesting for a single source approval from GPPA. The date on the goods delivery note was 11th March 2019 whilst the date on the GPPA approval was 2nd April 2019”.
According to the FPAC Report GAI Enterprise was to be paid in four instalments, instead Hadim Gai was paid in full and never provided certificates of completion for the various stages of the project. “Auditors noted that the contract documents signed between the Government of the Gambia and GAI Enterprise for their rehabilitation works revealed that payments would be made in  stages — however, the auditors noted that payment voucher dated 27th May 2019 showed that GAI Enterprise was paid the full amount of D17.48 million as opposes to payment in stages”. Worst still “copies of the completion certificate for each stage were not provided to the audit team” which highlights the possible lack of supervision of the works completed.
Numerous other irregularities were also observed with GAI Enterprise failing to comply with GPPA’s conditional approval such as defining/clarifying the supervisory role, removing the D950,000 contingency allocation from the contract and adding D55,770 to the Bill of Quantities grand total of D17.48 million. Although GAI Enterprise failed to comply with these conditions “work went on”.
According to the FPAC Report it’s recommended for the Secretary-General at the Office of the President [to] provide explanations for the anomalies and that they should follow procurement regulations to ensure that public funds are judiciously spent. Some of the irregularities show clear signs of disregard for financial procedures with a purchase order and request for quotations being issued four days after payment has been made to the supplier for office equipment costing D50,251.
$35.72 Million Banjul Project Awarded Without Due Diligence
Turning our attention to the Banjul Drainage, Road and Sewage Project (Banjul Project) highlights that there is no evidence that due diligence was performed before the contract was awarded to GAI Enterprise. In fact, the Ministry of Justice had advised in a letter dated 18th June 2019 “that the approval by the Office of the President and Cabinet of the award of the BDRS project to Gai Enterprise in May 2019 amounting to $35,720,000.00 should be gazetted before the conclusion of the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract”. However, procurement rules state that the project should be Gazetted before works commence and not before the completion of the works.
According to the FPAC Report, “the audit team requested a copy of the gazette from the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure (MoTWI) to confirm that the award had been gazetted before the signing of the contract, but none was provided for review”. In addition to this “auditors requested for evidence of invitation for project proposal from the Office of the President to GAI Enterprise and any minutes of Contract Committee meetings relevant to the BDRS project from Office of the President but none were provided”.
Due to the lack of following procurement regulations, Parliament has recommended that the Ministry of Works “should provide — documentation [needed] for audit verification. Furthermore, the Ministry should follow proper documentation procedures for transparency and accountability”. In addition to this “Major omissions such as detailed study and design, work schedule, and Bill of Quantity (BOQ) in the Lot I prepared by Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoTWI), were identified and there was no evidence of due diligence conducted to confirm that the contractor has available financial resources, including performance security to execute the project”.
Parliament therefore recommends that the “Office of the President and Ministry of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure (MoTWI) should provide an explanation for accepting this form of contract. Similarly, “evidence that GAI Enterprise is the most suitable and qualified contractor to carry out this project, including any due diligence performed before the contract was awarded to GAI Enterprise has not been provided to the auditors”.
Numerous complaints have been raised about the execution of the Banjul Project and the quality of the work completed. Our reporter published a FactCheck on the status of works at Banjul after the President promised that all the construction would be completed by Hadim Gai’s company. According to the financial irregularities observed by auditors, GAI Enterprise has been benefiting from its business dealings with the President’s Office, however, they are still yet to demonstrate their competence to be awarded such projects and they have been favoured through the use of single sourcing.
More information on the Banjul project is available in the links below.