By Omar Bah
The Office of the President has issued a statement describing a statement by former finance minister, Amadou Sanneh carried by The Standard as misleading.
Mr Sanneh has said National Assembly should investigate OP over money said to have been withdrawn without approval.
A National Audit Office summarised audit report on the government’s 2017 financial statements revealed that the government made withdrawals amounting to D669 million without approval from the Accountant General. The report said the money was withdrawn from “Special Security” accounts, which were closed on its [NAO] recommendations but were reopened with the same account name but with a different account number.
After the publication, fingers have been pointing at Amadou Sanneh, who was the finance minister when the withdrawals were made.
Mr Sanneh has since denied any knowledge about the withdrawals and challenged the National Assembly to investigate the Office of the President.
But in a statement issued yesterday, OP said: “The Office of the President informs the public that the headline “Ex-Finance Minister tells Assembly to Investigate OP over ‘Missing’ D669” carried on the front page of the Standard Newspaper on Tuesday, 26th April 2022 is misleading. The Ex-Finance Minister, Honourable Amadou Sanneh, is aware that the D669 million mentioned in the Audit Report of 2017 was expenditure in 2016 when the Barrow government was not in office. The National Audit Office has established that the amount in question was withdrawn in 2016 before President Adama Barrow came into office.
“The Audit report published recently in 2022 is a result of an audit exercise conducted in 2017.
The Barrow administration is committed to combating corruption and will investigate any misappropriation of public funds. H.E. Adama Barrow is committed to holding public institutions, including the Office of the President, accountable.”
Information Minister reacts
Earlier, responding to a question on Coffee Time with Peter Gomez yesterday, Information Minister Ebrima Sillah said he doubts whether the president has interest in touching the D669 million.
“If it was used it was used on state issues,” he said.
Asked where the money would have been spent on, Minister Sillah simply said he was not in government in 2017.
“But I posted this on our ministerial forum yesterday because I listened to this entire interview and I gave some pointers to the issues the various ministries have to respond to which include D669 million and contracts works to renovate the State House both in Banjul and Fajara but you know that the president is not the spending officer. I don’t know who the spending officer is at the OP, so that is why I posted in the forum this report as a government and respond as a government,” Sillah said.
Asked whether he feels any of the responsible parties will react, Minister Sillah said the government is duty bound to respond because the public perception is that “this money was used without going through due process and “that is what has to be clarified”.
“It is also weird that the explanation given by Amadou Sanneh to the point that he was calling for an investigation or even impeachment should it be discovered that OP expended this without going through due process when he was in office, forgetting that it was not the president who withdraws. You cannot be a public servant. You knew exactly how this money was spent. You sit there and keep quiet as if nothing happened,” he said.