It is imperative that all public enterprises and agencies submit their annual reports and accounts ahead of the deadline highlighted by the speaker of the house in recent days. The filing of these reports is a vital part of our democracy and promotes transparency and accountability in our public agencies. As many of the institutions concerned are involved in the work of government and seek the co-operation of the public in following the rules, they must lead by example and follow their own rules to the letter of the law. As of now less than half of the institutions who are supposed to have filed have done so. So far only 20 public institutions and enterprises are said to have complied with the constitution by submitting their reports, accounts and financial statements to the National Assembly in time for statutory considerations and scrutiny by law-makers, while about 22 are yet to do so.
Hon. Fatoumata Jahumpa-Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly, has warned that by 8th September the Joint Committee of Finance and Public Enterprises of the National Assembly will proceed to take appropriate legal measures against defaulting agencies and enterprises that fail to submit their annual reports, accounts and financial statements by 2nd September 2008. It will be a crying shame if it comes to this. Why is there even the need for the Speaker to have to issue threats of this kind? All the accounts should be in order all the time so it should simply be a case of the institutions concerned delivering the accounts to the committee.
This exercise is in pursuance of the powers bestowed on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Enterprises Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly by the provisions of section 102, 109 and 110 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia. This requires that the annual reports, accounts and financial statements of all public enterprises and agencies that are funded wholly and partly by taxes from the people of The Gambia are jointly received and considered.
Taxpayers' money must be handled and spent with the utmost rectitude. So we urge all those who have yet to submit their accounts to do so immediately so that we can enjoy transparency and accountability in our public enterprises and agencies.
"Money is our madness, our vast collective madness".
D. H. Lawrence