Sports Ministry refutes over D800, 000 air tickets procurement

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has refuted reports by this newspaper that it spent over D800, 000 to secure 10 air tickets from Satguru Travel Agency.

In a media release issued by the ministry yesterday, it refuted The Point report as not authentic and did not emanate from the ministry hence does not reflect the ministry’s true version.

This medium yesterday reported that investigation has revealed the Ministry of Youth Sports ‘spending over D800, 000’ to secure just 10 air tickets from Satguru Travel Agency.

The said air tickets were meant for a 10-man delegation of basketball players and coaches travelling to the West African Nation of Togo to attend a continental basketball championship.

This medium quoted Ministry sources saying Minister Henry Gomez was personally responsible for negotiating for the air tickets.

The total budget said to be sent from The Gambia Basketball Association (GBA) to the Ministry was around D900, 000, which was meant to cover air tickets, accommodation, feeding and per diems; thus leaving many asking the question, “how is it possible to spend D800, 000 just on 10 air tickets to Togo?”

The basketball players have since returned home and are not quite happy at the action of the ministry, which failed in their responsibility of providing allowances/per diems to them.

An invoice seen by this journalist from Satguru sent and received by the ministry cost the air ticket of each member of the delegation at over D80, 000.

A member of the delegation who pleaded anonymity expressed how the lack of allowances affected them while in Lome. “We had to spend from our own small pocket money we provided by ourselves.”

The anonymous delegate said the players were left disrespected and humiliated by the action of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

A ministry source also hinted at some corrupt practices at the ministry, citing an incident where the Minister was paid a per diem for five day trip of D91, 000 to Kenya in September, which he neither attended nor returned the money.

When contacted on the issue, Papa Njie, President of The Gambia Basketball Association confirmed the players travelling to Togo without any pocket money.

However, the KM Mayoral aspirant confirmed giving personal financial support to the delegation.

He said the National Sports Council provided the air ticket, but could not provide allowances due to what he said the Sports Council described to be ‘financial constraint’.

Minister Gomez is currently out of town on an official mission and this journalist will contact him for his side of the story when he returns. He was contacted but he would prefer granting an interview when he returns next week.

Since his appointment, Minister Gomez has been openly condemning corruption in Gambian sports. He has promised to take Gambian Sports from 0% to 100%, but it seems that dream will take a long time to be realised.

Author: Picture: Henry Gomez, minister of youth and sports