By Omar Bah
The Minister of Finance, Mambury Njie has revealed that the government has tasked auditors to audit the Covid-19 funds and report back on their findings for further actions.
Health Minister Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh nearly two weeks ago shocked the nation with his frank revelation of an apparent attempt by corrupt officials to steal monies from the D500M provided by government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Samateh told the National Assembly that over 300 ghost names were submitted as beneficiaries of allowances from the Covid-19 money.
“The auditors have already started looking at how the Covid-19 funds were disbursed and spent. The government has no other choice but to wait for the auditors to finish and submit their reports…from there we will see what action we can take because we cannot act based on speculations. We have to follow due process and that will include allowing the auditors to do their job. All what people are saying now is based on allegations,” he told journalists at a press conference yesterday.
Also speaking at the press conference meant to shed light on government’s food aid distribution, the Vice President and chairperson of the cabinet Covid-19 response committee, Dr Isatou Touray said all the distributions were done transparently without segregations as instructed by the president.
“Due process was followed in the distribution of the food aid. Those who are blaming the government for segregating others do not understand the process used by the government. Yes, there were duplications but that should not be use as yardstick to criticise all the good work the government has done,” she said.
VP Touray said the food aid distribution around the country will soon be fully accomplished. She urged Gambians not to be complacent as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country are on the rise.
“I call on all and sundry to exercise social distancing and the security forces responsible for enforcing the emergency regulations to intensify their efforts in protecting our lives,” she said.
She said the government is aware that if they fail in their responsibility to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously “it could further deepen the country’s poverty. This is why the president should be praised for taking the right decisions to contain the spread of the virus”.
Madame Touray added that the outbreak of Covid-19 could serve as a good opportunity for Gambians to unite and turn the future of the country around for the better.
“…but this will only happen when people stop making statements and comments that are misrepresentation of the facts. We are concerned about accountable and good governance but our institutions must be respected…People should take the state of emergency very seriously and avoid seeing it as political. We need to agree as a nation and not as political parties to engage proactively to see what is best for this country and we can only do this by supporting and appreciating the president in these try times,” she added.
The Veep said the issue of duplication they were facing with the distribution in Banjul has been solved and very soon the food aid will reach to the beneficiaries without any further delay.
The vice president also took time to urge journalists to report factually and responsibly.