By Omar Bah
Justice Minister Dawda Jallow yesterday told lawmakers that The Standard’s story on the National Audit Office’s report on the 2019 government financial statements, which revealed D22,319,958 of proceeds from the sale of Jammeh’s assets was “unaccounted for” by the government is “misleading”.
According to the report reproduced by The Standard verbatim, the General Triplicate Receipt book used for receipting monies for the sale of government assets reported by the Janneh Commission was not provided for inspection claiming that the book was missing after the sale of assets.
“The proceeds of these receipts amounting to D22,319,958 were collected from the sale of government assets reported by the Janneh Commission. The audit noted that receipts were not used to collect payments; instead, only written acknowledgements of receipt of payments were made. There is an increased risk of lack of transparency and accountability resulting in loss of revenue due to the government,” the report pointed out.
But responding to a question by the National Assembly Member for Kombo South, Kebba Barrow on the issue, Minister Jallow said: “What interest me is the bold headline by The Standard newspaper sighted by the member for Kombo South which says D22 millions of proceeds from sales of Jammeh’s assets is unaccounted for. I don’t know where The Standard got this from but I will refer you to page 96 of the 2019 Management Letter of the National Audit Report. There is nowhere where it says this amount is unaccounted for.
“This is proceeds that the Accountant General recorded as revenue and I can read for you verbatim what the auditors said which reads: ‘As part of audit of government of The Gambia Consolidated Financial statement, we noted treasury receipt amounting to D22,319,957.92 were reported as proceeds from the sales of assets by the Janneh Commission.’ So, it was already recorded as proceeds. How can you say it is unaccounted for? Sometimes when you see these newspaper headlines you begin to wonder what the agenda is. Is this deliberate or what is the purpose?” he queried.
Minister Jallow said all the auditors needed was additional documents which the Accountant General didn’t provide at the time but later provided. “But The Standard said D22 million was unaccounted for as if someone went with the money. I think we should be careful with these newspaper headlines and I don’t why they decide to do it that way,” he added.
Reacting to the attorney general’s statements, the author of the story Omar Bah stated: “We based our article on the latest GoTG 2019 Simplified and Summarised Audit Report which was published on 9th June 2023. Page 19 of the report under the title Unaccounted Revenue stated:
Failure to provide information on sale of government assets
reported by the Janneh Commission
During the audit, we noted that the General Triplicate Receipt (GTR) book used for receipting monies for the sale of government’s assets was not provided for our inspection claiming that the book was missing after the sale of assets.
The proceeds of these receipts amounted to D22,319,958 were collected from the sale of government assets reported by the Janneh Commission.
The audit noted that receipts were not used to collect payments instead only written acknowledgements of receipt of payments were made.
There is an increased risk of lack of transparency and accountability resulting to loss of revenue due to Government.’
“What we reported is what is on the report. We will refer the matter to the National Audit Office for clarification to be published here.”
Reacting to Minister Jallow’s intimations of whether The Standard has “an agenda”, Managing Editor Sheriff Bojang said: “Of course we do and it is to report the news ungarnished. Let me assure Minister Jallow and all others that we have no desire or intent to wilfully and maliciously discredit the government or any other organisation or individual. Our agenda is to serve as a relay between the people and the government and between the peoples and engender debate on issues of national relevance so that at the end of the day the government is held accountable to an informed citizenry.”