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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Assembly tells IGP to investigate Nawec for awarding contract to company owned by staff

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By Tabora Bojang

The National Assembly has ordered the Inspector General of Police to launch an immediate investigation into claims of conflict of interest at the National Water and Electricity Company for awarding a contract to a company owned by its staff without following due procedures.

According to the chairman of the Assembly’s Public Enterprises Committee, Lamin J Sanneh, the said contract amounting to D1.36 million and was awarded to Kuteh Jumble Electrical which is owned and registered by a Nawec employee.

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Sanneh, who presented the committee’s report on the activities and audited financial statements of SOEs including Nawec for the years ended 2019 and 2020, said awarding contracts to companies owned by staff without regard to policies on conflict of interest is a violation of the Constitution and the Public Service Act.

“The committee recommends that the Inspector General of Police investigate this matter and report back to the committee by the end of June 2024,” chairman Sanneh disclosed.

The Committee also urged Nawec to ensure its policy on conflict of interest is reviewed, and signed annually by the board, management and all the staff.

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Commenting on these revelations, nominated lawmaker Kebba Lang Fofana, said: “This is serious. There is an in-house policy with regard to declaration of interest but the auditors realised those conditions were never fulfilled by Nawec. This is a suspicious activity and I agree with the committee recommendations for the police to investigate it.”

Understatement of revenue

The committee also reported that there were understatements with regard to Nawec revenue amounting to over D100 million between 2019 and 2020. The NAMs ordered the Nawec Board and Management to reconcile these revenue understatements by the end of April 2024.

“I think we have to make this stronger. If they [Nawec] fail to reconcile and bring forth the necessary evidence, recovery must be done in full.  Revenue is the backbone of every institution and as such if the auditors are reporting that there were gross misstatements in the revenue reported by Nawec, the Assembly should not take that lightly,” nominated member Fofana stated.

“The recommendations made by the committee are apt but it is my fervent belief that we have passed that stage. Audit opinions do not change, they are not subject to revision. This is cast in stone. The next step should be investigation. These are amounts in excess of 400 million. That calls for an investigation. So I will call on this Honourable House to take bold decisions on that because without the required revenue, how do you expect Nawec to work on the much needed advancement, much needed improvements?” he added.

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