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Public Enterprises/Agencies to Face Legal Action

Sep 12, 2008, 6:45 AM | Article By: By Abba A.S. Gibba

Following the warning by the National Assembly that by the 8thof September the joint committee of Finance and Public Enterprises of the assembly (PAC/PEC) will proceed to take appropriate legal measures against defaulting agencies and enterprises that fail to submit their annual reports, accounts and financial statements by 2ndSeptember 2008, the National Assembly yesterday revealed that it is going ahead to take legal action against those Enterprises and Agencies that defaulted in submitting their reports or are not taking the joint session seriously.

This exercise is in pursuance of the powers bestowed on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly by the provisions of Section 102, 109 and 110 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia to jointly receive and consider 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.

Speaking yesterday at a press briefing at the National Assembly Chambers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Madam Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay, who is also the Chairperson of the Joint Committee stated that, "after sending reminders to Public Enterprises and Agencies to submit their annual reports, it has come to the notice of the Joint Committee that some Public Enterprises/Agencies have blatantly refused to submit their annual reports, accounts, financial statements and management letters to the Joint Committee for parliamentary scrutiny or even refuse to attend the joint session as scheduled."

Speaker Jahumpa-Ceesay revealed that out of the fifty (50) Public Institutions and Enterprises that are expected to submit their reports, so far only twenty-one (21) have done so.

She added that out of those received nine (9) have been deferred and five (5) were incomplete.

She added that some would wait until the last minute and give flimsy excuses that they are travelling abroad or their Board Chairpersons or/and Accountants are indisposed.

"The National Assembly is an oversight institution composed of elected representatives of the people and therefore, Public Enterprises and Agencies or individuals should take the Assembly seriously. It is obvious that when trusted with people's money, you need to be accountable to them. Thus, this parliamentary scrutiny is not a witch-hunt but rather to assist institutions meet their set targets and achieves its objectives," he said.

Section 109 of the Constitution of The Gambia states that; "For the purpose of effectively performing its functions, each of the Committees shall have all the powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial in respect of (a) enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them both on oath, affirmation or otherwise (b) compelling the production of documents.

The month-long exercise started on Monday 25thAugust 2008 and is expected to go on until the end of September 2008.