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AIF reacts to gov’t claims

Sep 14, 2020, 10:59 AM

Press release
BANJUL11September 2020.The Board of Directors of the Africa Infrastructure Fund (Gambia) LTD, issued a press release dated August 21, 2020, to inform private citizens and friends of The Gambia, and others, of its approval to establish a COVID-19 Response Fund to support and complement the Government of The Gambia’s efforts to respond to the ongoing national COVID -19 emergency that the country is facing.

 

The AIF is concerned about the acutely challenging conditions at all our public health care facilities across the country, particularly at the subnational and provincial levels. Therefore, after receiving multiple inquiries from concerned individuals and groups at home and abroad about how they could offer financial support, and requests for assistance from overstretched frontline health care workers, AIF management visited Basse and Bansang Hospitals to obtain first hand information. By touring these two hospitals and speaking to frontline workers on the ground, AIF management developed a better sense of the level of preparedness of these critical facilities in the overall system.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, AIF felt duty-bound to play our part to provide a transparent and accountable channel that adheres to global best practice for receipt of financial assistance from potential donors. By this stage, several of them had expressed the wish to channel their contributions through AIF which accepted the challenge, as a good corporate citizen, in line with our corporate and social responsibility (CSR) principles, and consistent with our lofty corporate values.

Also, the August 21, 2020 press release further went on to inform would-be donors that the proceeds of its COVID-19 Response Fund would be used to finance publicly owned or publicly held activities and assets. The AIF, following global best practice and for no other reason, felt compelled to clearly inform would-be donors where and how their granted funds would be used.  The funds would have been used at publicly owned healthcare facilities.  In other words, public non-profit health care institutions.

Furthermore, the AIF consulted widely with senior government officials and government-appointed advisers prior to launching of its COVID-19 Response Fund. However, AIF had made no decision about which public health facility or activity to finance because it did not yet have a clear indication about the level of funding that would be generated. Further, in order to avoid additional stress to the Government bureaucracy at this critical time, AIF believed that the most suitable opportunity to seek a formal written approval from the Government would be when decisions were to be made about the exact name and location of the publicly-owned facility to receive support from the AIF COVID-19 Response Fund, and once those are identified and the activities to be financed determined.

Therefore, AIF was disappointed by the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure’s response in their press release of 26 August 2020, when only a phone call from the Ministry to the AIF seeking clarification would have sufficed. Taking into consideration the noble, patriotic and honorable objectives of AIF’s COVID-19 Response Fund based on best practice in terms of openness, transparency, accountability and full disclosure, as well as the precedence established by other non-state actors who are also fundraising to complement the Government’s COVID-19 Response Programme, AIF will continue to demonstrate sincerity and goodwill in all its actions and activities.

As a consequence, the AIFout of an abundance of caution to respect the Government’s concerns, has decided to recalibrate and re-direct itsCOVID-19 Response Fund contributions towards areas of dire need which do not involve public-sector facilities or sponsored activities.In the light of the outlined reorientation of funding activities, the AIF driven only by its desire to support our people during these particularly difficult times, willmaintain its COVID-19 Response Fund, particularly with its best practice oversight arrangements to safeguard donor contributions.

Finally, the AIF wishes to thankall contributors to its COVID-19 Response Fund, and we would be communicating directly to inform them of these changes to the original arrangements.

The AIF remains willing at all times to amicably work with the Government on issues of national development, and therefore, urges all concernedto move past our perceived differences and work together in unity to defeat the novel coronavirus and Poverty, which are our real, deadly enemies.

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