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GAMBIA: AG, PRESIDENT’S OFFICE ENGAGED IN ‘MISCHIEVOUS’ TRANSFER OF OVER 50 MILLION DALASIS SAYS REPORT

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A report of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) of the National Assembly has revealed that The Gambia’s Accountant General requested the transfer of D50,000,000.00 from the Special Deposit Account to the Central Bank of West Africa in favour of the state of Senegal and also made a payment of D49,999,999,85 to the Government of Senegal.

The FPAC report was a finding from the 2019 Audited Accounts of the Government Auditor General’s report on Covid-19 response Phase 2.

In the report, FPAC stated: “During the examination of payment vouchers, we noted that the Accountant General wrote to the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank -vide letter reference DE 21/01/P.60(10) and dated 12th December 2019 requesting the transfer of D50,000,000.00 from the Special Deposit Account to the Central Bank of West Africa in favour of the state of Senegal. We also noted a payment of D49,999,999,85 to the Government of Senegal – vide voucher number 23PV007820 dated 31st December 2019 in respect of timber proceeds.”

The Committee stated further: “It would appear that this transfer was made outside the IFMIS system, as a payment voucher was raised one week after the debit advice was issued to effect the transfer of funds. Discussion with officials at the Accountant General’s Department revealed that directive was issued from the Office of the President to make this payment even though no documentary evidence was provided to support this claim. We requested for agreement or MOU between the Government of The Gambia and Senegalese Government to support the above transfer, but none was provided for review.”

The auditors noted that evidence of the number of containers shipped from May to December 2019 were not provided and they could not confirm the total amount realised from the sale of timber, the report stated, adding that the Auditor’s third-party confirmation with Gambia Ports Authority revealed that two thousand three hundred and ninety-three (2,393) containers of wood/timber were shipped for the period 1 January 2019 to 30 April 2019. 

“Therefore, it is expected that revenue from 1 January 2019 to 30 April 2019 based on the number of containers exported is estimated at US$8,614,800.00,” stated the FPAC report.

However, the report continued, it was stated that the auditors could not confirm if the stated amount was remitted to relevant government account as officials of the Ministry of Environment were unable to provide details of the designated bank account for which revenue was lodged. 

In addition, the report noted, there was no evidence of reconciliation between the ministry and the agents and therefore could not determine the amount of revenue deposited to the “purported” designated bank account.

Furthermore, the report added, the auditors could not confirm the total amount realised from the sales from May to December 2019 since the number of containers shipped were not provided. Therefore, the finding remained the same, the reported stated, saying further calculations of the 2,393 container shipments from Gambia Ports Authority revealed unaccounted revenue of 241,962,480.

The committee recommended that the Ministry of Environment should make a follow-up with agents to provide information on the number of containers exported from the inception of the agreement to date as well as the corresponding revenue collected for the same period.

The committee also recommended that action should be taken by management to investigate the accountability of revenue generated through the exportation of timber and details should be furnished to the auditors for verification.

“The Ministry of Environment should provide evidence of approval of the National Assembly to the FPAC or appropriate sanctions would be applied to the officials involved,” the report stated, adding: “We request that any document regarding agreement between the two governments be presented to the FPAC for verification.”

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