The Assembly’s integrity was once again put into question when deputies in November last year approved over one billion dalasi supplementary bill.
Eighty-six million dalasi was appropriated for national celebrations while the president’s office took the lion share of 459 million dalasi.
The opposition had criticised that the introduction of supplementary appropriation shows gross financial indiscipline on the part of the government and the National Assembly is blamed for being ‘a rubber stamp’ institution.
However, Mr Jatta, who is also the NAM for Serekunda East, said the appropriation was justified.
He told The Standard: “Our problem in this country is that no one says a word when a particular institution spends a huge amount of money but they talk when the expenditure comes from the president’s office, especially from the opposition. The president is the most important person in this country. Every butut spent by the president’s office is justifiable.”
The ruling-APRC bigwig went on to defend the Assembly describing it as ‘independent and democratic,’ noting that it is also the ‘best in Africa’.
“We are so effective that even the World Bank has hailed us for what we are doing here. One example is the Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprise Committee. In fact, there are countries like South Africa and others that came to understudy us. I said that even in our last adjournment debate. So people can sit aside and say “it is a rubber stamp” institution. These sorts of unfounded claims are coming from people who don’t even come to the National Assembly to listen to our deliberations, nor do they follow issues that we deal with. They only listen to the news summary and come up with these sorts of claims.
“But ordinary Gambians know what we do and how relevant that is in the governance process of their country. Just recently, one gentleman working with the World Bank had to come here to see how they can help the PAC/PEC committee of the National Assembly. The PAC/PEC is just second to none. We are hailed as the best in Africa. There is no other place better than us, even United Kingdom. We went for an outreach in UK, so we can compare.
“The reason this National Assembly is successful is because of the political will of the leadership in the country. For example, when the recommendation of the PAC/PEC came out, a presidential directive was issued directly for immediate implementation with a taskforce set-up. And our recommendations are implemented regardless of who it might affect. You can’t find that sort of leadership anywhere. The president even said one time that his greatest joy is seeing the PAC/PEC in action and in our work; there are no “sacred cows.”]]>