D54M NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LOAN SCHEME CHALLENGED AT SUPREME COURT

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By Bruce Asemota

Two groups, Gambia Participates and Center Research and Policy Development, have filed a civil suit at the Supreme Court of The Gambia against the clerk of the National Assembly, Auditor General, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Attorney General.

The suit is seeking the Supreme Court to declare that the amendment done by the National Assembly by including a budget line item of D54.4 million is in contravention of Sections 151, 152 and 155 of the Constitution and a violation of Section 47 of the Public Finance Act 2014.

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The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the approval of the annual estimates of revenue and expenditures for 2021 with the inclusion of the sum of D54.4 million as a loan to National Assembly members and staff of the National Assembly Service was a usurpation of powers given to the president in Section 152 of the Constitution and a violation of clause 70 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order directing the Auditor General not to grant approval for the withdrawal of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it by the National Assembly or the National Assembly Service.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order directing the minister of finance not to pay from the Consolidated Fund or any fund of the government the sum of D54.4 million or any money at all to the National Assembly members or staff of the National Assembly Service as a loan pursuant to the approved estimates of revenue and expenditure of the government for 2021.

The plaintiffs are further seeking an order severing and striking down the part of the Appropriation Act authorizing the payment of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to the National Assembly and staff of the National Assembly.

They also seek an injunction against the clerk of the National Assembly and the National Assembly restraining them from raising warrants or preparing payment vouchers or any documents that would facilitate the processing of the payment of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it to the staff of the National Assembly Service and the National Assembly members.

Meanwhile, the matter is slated for hearing by the Supreme Court in about forth night.

The plaintiffs are registered entities whose main objectives are to promote the rule of law, transparent and good governance in public life and act as watch dogs against corruption, noting that they are clothed with Section 5(1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution which gives them authority to bring action to enforce the Constitution.