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Gov’t reacts to auditors’ findings on Securiport contract

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The Gambia Government has issued a statement reacting to the findings of the National Audit Office detailing irregularities on the Securiport contract.

The NAO report on the award of contract to Securiport for the administrative and management of immigration security services at the Banjul International Airport has revealed several irregularities in the contract and recommended for it to be reviewed.

But in a statement signed by its spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh, the government said: “For the record, the audit report on Securiport is not new. Originally published in November 2022, the auditors adjudged that this is a force majeure issue due to the refusal of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to incorporate it into the airline ticketing system.

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“The Parliamentary Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) discussed the major topics including a 9-month lapse in levy collection during the initial stage and auditory assertion on the recovery of D164m unjustifiably paid to Securiport. The Barrow Government, as a pragmatic arbiter of checks and balances, took FPAC’s recommendations seriously by establishing a taskforce to investigate and renegotiate the terms and conditions of the Securiport contract and engaging IATA to include the levy into air tickets,” the statement added.

It added: “Without delay, the Government simultaneously engaged the Attorney General for appropriate actions regarding this issue and the Justice Ministry is of the opinion that the contract may breach or be in conflict with another contract. In fact, The Gambia is not the only country implementing the Securiport services. Countries like Senegal are also using Securiport.

According to the statement, the Barrow Government remains firmly committed to transparency in Public Financial Management (PFM) and deserves commendation for creating an enabling environment for accountability.

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“Thanks to the PFM reforms on governance, risk management and internal control processes across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), institutions are allowed to operate freely in accordance with their respective mandates. This is visible in the activities of FPAC, Internal Audit, National Audit Office (NAO) and The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).

“Furthermore, the digitalization of the Government payment systems and platforms allows easier revenue collection.  This exercise is accompanied by legislative processes such as the enactment of the Public Private Partnership (PPP), State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the Anti-Corruption Bills that demonstrate Government’s strong commitment to fight bad governance and corruption. Crucially, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA) has enhanced resource mobilization and cleared the backlog of unaudited Government accounts.

“Retrospectively, the Barrow Administration instituted the Janneh Commission and fully implemented its recommendations albeit with challenges of the current democratic dispensation guaranteeing justice. Finally, the recent Public Expenditure and Financial Assessment (PEFA) shows a significant improvement by The Gambia Government, which was recognized by the US Government’s approval of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding for the country.  These indices are more reflective and certainly more objective than the Transparency International (TI) perception measure of corruption which seldom recognizes government effort,” it concluded.

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