ASSEMBLY TO SEEK UPDATE ON D30M UNRETIRED IMPRESTS

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By Omar Bah

Minority Leader and chairperson of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee has said the National Assembly will soon call the Accountant General and Minister of Finance to give an update on the recovery of D30 million unretired imprests.

Last year, September, the National Assembly passed a resolution which among other things ordered that all outstanding imprests issued to ministries, departments, agencies and individuals totalling over D30 million be retired by October 31st 2022.

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Giving an update on the issue, Hon. Alhagie S Darboe said his committee had a meeting with the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General’s Office at the end of October regarding the latest development on the imprests and they were supposed to appear at the National Assembly to update members but it coincided with the budget session.

“But when we begin our committee sessions on the 16th of this month (today) the Accountant General and the finance minister will be invited to the Assembly to give us the final update on the unretired imprests and there, we will know about those who have and who have not complied and any action that would be taken will be communicated to the public,” Darboe told journalists Friday at a two-day training for the FPAC committee organised by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, WFD.

Honourable Darboe said if there is any reason for some individuals to be prosecuted that would be communicated to the IGP.

Advice to IGP

Still on accountability, Hon. Darboe also urged the Inspector General of Police to, in the spirit of national interest, disregard all political interference when executing his duties.

“If the police are quite conscious of their function and mandate, they should act based on laws and not any form of executive interference. I understand the IGP is appointed by the president and based on that one will assume he may be tempted to dance to the president’s tune but he should understand he is a public official and in executing his duties he should disregard any political interference even that of the president,” he said.

He said the National Assembly has the power to compel the IGP to investigate matters of public interest even where there is executive interference but to avoid all that the IGP should be willing to execute his duties without any interference.

Commenting on calls to make the police independent from the executive, Darboe said that decision “cannot be made by the assembly but the executive”.

“But the executive is not having that political will and it will be difficult to have a private member bill passed given the fact that the same government is having the majority in parliament and it is obvious that no member of the ruling party will come up with a private members bill to legislate that,” he said.

Audit reports

Commenting on the lack of accountability when it comes to audit reports, Darboe said: “The National Assembly can only look at the reports and make recommendations and forward it to the police for prosecution. So, it is one thing to do our work but another for action to be taken against anyone found wanting.”

He said when it comes to accountability, the country should “do away with the issue of maslahah” and any report that is approved by the Assembly and recommendations are made for prosecution, it should be acted upon without any interference.

“This is the only way we can hold people to account,” he added.    

The WFD country representative, Madi Jobarteh, said the training focused on the key thematic areas of the Foundation’s intervention which is transparency, accountability and inclusion.

Mr Jobarteh said the WFD has drafted a program in which they want to bring experts in different areas to expand the foundation’s horizon in terms of connection, impact and value to enhance accountability.

“I had a conversation with the minister of finance who expressed the government’s interest and commitment to accountability,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to the National Assembly management for the good relationship they continue to share with his foundation.