By Tabora Bojang
Banjul North parliamentarian, Ousman Sillah, has said the much-touted anti-corruption law would not be effective if the remunerations of public servants is not significantly upped.
The PDOIS lawmaker said this at the laying and adoption of the report of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly on Anti-Corruption Bill 2019.
The bill was referred to the committee during the 2019 legislative year and the members are tasked with scrutinising the document and engaging stakeholder consultations and proffering recommendations.
Deliberating on the report, Ousman Sillah said: “Most of the practices that are considered as corrupt are being run allegedly by those who are at the bottom of the income ladder and that is why we should have had before us a bill revising salary structure for the civil and the public service. If you have an anti-corruption law and a civil servant who earns D2,000 or D3,000 a month is alleged to have engaged in corruption and is taken to court, a heavy punishment will be handed down on him. I don’t think that would be commensurate [with his crime].”
He argued that such anti-graft laws tend to punish desperate junior civil servants while leaving “sacred cows” untouched.
Sillah said the Evaluation of Assets and Corrupt Practices Act of the 1980s and the 2012 Anti-Corruption Acts “have not achieved anything” towards addressing corruption in The Gambia.
“Any attempt to divert public money to private use is totally condemned. But the person trying to get D50, D100 or D500 as fish money will end up being caught up by this and ordered to pay D300,000 or go to jail for a minimum of three years. The anti-corruption law should have been accompanied by a law that addresses the income of those who are eventually [likely] going to be caught up when this law is enacted,” he contended.