Good Morning Mr. President: Transparency needed in government contracts and jobs

Sep 7, 2020, 11:23 AM

We commend you for successfully steering the affairs of this country to date.

Mr. President, your government should always try to see that transparency is applied in the awarding of contracts and jobs in all government offices.

All tender of contracts or vacancies should be advertised in the newspapers for the bidding to be competitive and fair. Government should no longer allow pre-financing of projects like the Banjul roads project with Hadim Gai, which is D1.8 billion. Since there are 12 banks in this country, any future projects that Government has, the banks should be contracted if they can offer any intervention.

Mr. President, it is wrong to go in for a contractor to pre-finance government project as it will not tell well and people will question the rationale.

In recent times, there have been allegations of serious and endemic corruption in the government procurement system involving procurement units of some important government ministries.

If these allegations are found to be true, then it is deeply worrying as the funds involved are either tax payers’ money or grants and loans given to the Gambian people. 

Mr. President, when such allegations are made, government should not take it lightly as the citizenry expect a thorough and transparent act be conducted by the competent authorities to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations. 

If this is not done, people would justifiably be very doubtful about the good intentions of the leadership for the country. It is alleged by whistle blowers that government contracts are often highly inflated to accommodate kickbacks for government officials and authorities handling such contracts. 

Mr. President, the bidding processes are also fraudulent with blatant multiple irregularities. Example, unjustifiable single sourcing to be able to award contracts to the supplier; they can make the most corrupt deals with awarding contracts to a few people who have little or no expertise in what they are supplying, be it goods or services, cutting across several ministries; engaging dubious suppliers both locally and overseas etc. All this is done despite the existence of The New Gambia. 

Mr. President, the Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) should operate under strict guidelines to ensure that the procurement units of the different ministries including the Permanent Secretaries, who are the accounting officers, strictly adhere to the clearly established procurement rules. 

At the end of the day, the buck ends with a honourable minister who should not be oblivious of what’s going on within his/her ministry, unless he or she is part of the deal. 

Anybody who is aware of the government procurement system during Colonial days and the Jawara regime with the existence of Major and Minor Tender Boards, which clearly minimize the risk of rampant corruption in the government procurement system, would be yearning for that system or something similar to be reintroduced. May the Lord help The Gambia!

Finally Mr. President, with the COVID 19, government should dialogue with the business community and markets vendors to make sure that they work in harmony regarding the timing of their work schedules. 

Teachers working in private schools and hotel workers who have been at home since March and not earning salaries should be considered for aid by the government.

We commend the government for amending the regulations for travellers coming into the country with regard to obtaining a pre -72 hour negative COVID-19 test for travelers.

Good day!