Retired soldiers slam GAF for  not being  transparent in entitlement  payment

Sep 16, 2021, 1:11 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Disgruntled retired soldiers of Intake 30 of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) who are currently demanding the payment of their gratuity, leave encasement and WARPS have claimed that the Army is not “transparent in the payment of their benefits”.

“Why should it take us this long before we can have our entitlements? Again, we want to know as to how much we should receive in each of the benefits and they should be able to give us a breakdown of our entitlement. We posed this question to the Director of Finance. Unfortunately, he couldn’t give us any answer other than ‘I don’t know’, Morikebba Camara said on behalf of the retired soldiers.

Camara, who was speaking during a press conference yesterday in Lamin further said: “The Army Director of Finance even pleaded with us to stop asking people outside about these questions. What could that signify? Where is the transparency they used to talk about?

The Army in a press release issued last month, informed that the affected soldiers were paid 80% of their full benefits, “whilst the payments for the remaining 20 percent are being processed to be paid as soon as possible.”

“Perhaps it is instructive to state that the processing of retirement benefits and refunds for public servants including members of the Armed Forces requires diligent bureaucratic process which cannot be circumvented,” the released added.

However, Camara recalled that: “The GAF on their social media page informed the public and the affected soldiers that, as of the date of their publication, 80 percent of retirees have been paid their full benefits while the payment for the remaining 20 percent are being processed to be paid as soon as possible.”

“Probably, 80 percent of those paid their full benefit are devils, not humans,” he added.

“As far as we know, there is no single person amongst us who has his/her pay in full. As of their publication on their Facebook, many of us did not receive a dalasi in our accounts.”

Responding to the Army’s claim that the delay of the payment of the affected soldiers was due to bureaucratic process, Camara said, “Does this diligent bureaucratic process require only when it is time to pay the retirees their entitlements? Was it not the same diligent bureaucratic process that was put into play to make sure our salaries are blocked immediately after our retirement? Is that diligent bureaucratic process one way traffic? We need a convincing answer to this?

“During our meeting with the CDS in his office in Banjul about our entitlements, one of us put to him that even some members of Intake 29 still don’t have their entitlements. The CDS quickly intervened and objected to that statement.”

“At the end of our meeting, though not convinced with the excuses they gave us, the CDS gave us the assurance that our benefits will be paid into our accounts in a week’s time starting with the gratuity.”

“To our surprise, only two weeks after our meeting, some of us started receiving some money in their accounts. Some received D13000, D12000, D9000, D8000, D7000 and even D5000 plus; respectively. Why is that big difference for the same entitlement? We need clarification on this.”

“We would want all members of the GAF to understand that our action is not a witch-hunt against anybody, but instead, trying to pave a way for the military to put their finance department in order. Our action is not only to the interest of the retirees, but also to the interest of others who are yet to be retired.”

“We believe there’s something going on which the army is not ready to tell us. There’s no transparency in the entire process. In fact, we believe there’s hidden agenda with regard to the delay of our entitlements,” Adama Jarju posited

Meanwhile, Modou Lamin Jatta said: “The GAF knows exactly as to how much we should receive, but because there is malpractice in the entire process, that’s why they don’t want to give us breakthrough on our entitlements.”

Dembo L. Jarju added: “The army should even sensitise soldiers with regard to the three benefits that they are supposed to get from the army. Quite a number of soldiers that are currently serving the army didn’t even know about these benefits. Many people are retiring from the service without even knowing how much they should benefit.”

“Serving 12 years in the army is not easy. Besides, when we found out from the treasury department, we were told that they have paid all our benefits to the army. Therefore, why is the army delaying the payment of our benefits?

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