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GOV’T TO REFUND D10M NON-COMPLIANT EXPENDITURES TO GLOBAL FUND

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Asks police to investigate audit query

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By Lamin Cham

Following the leaking online of a letter from the Ministry of Finance suggesting that government intends to refund The Global Fund D10 million queried by an internal audit report to have been spent without compliance with procedure, government yesterday came up with a statement explaining how the issue came about, and why it  has decided to refund the money concerned.

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The Global Fund is the international funding and partner organisation for the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS control proragmmes. Reliable sources told The Standard that the body has taken a strong position on the audit query of the management of its malaria component funds between January 2018 to September 2021 and demanded an urgent solution to the issue.  The leaked letter from the Ministry of Finance revealed a proposal by government to refund the money in four installments with a period of two years.

Clarifying the content of the leaked letter and government’s position on the matter, the Ministry of Finance yesterday issued the following statement:

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is aware of social media posting of a letter to The Global Fund. The posting relates to a letter addressed to the management division of the said fund concerning a refund of non-compliant expenditures. The general public is hereby informed that government is taking all necessary steps to address the findings relating to the audit of the malaria component financed by the Global Fund. This audit exercise was conducted in 2019 and the findings have been shared with government. The audit findings came from the regular internal auditing of the Fund’s operations by the Internal Audit Directorate of the Ministry of Finance. The matter was referred to the ministries of finance and health (the sector and lead ministry for the Fund’s operations) and the Executive was briefed accordingly.

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The conclusion of these consultations was to refer the matter to the Inspector General of Police for investigation. The IGP has since commenced the investigations and the outcome will determine the restitution action to be taken. We have been advised that the investigations are at an advanced stage for completion and the public will be duly informed,” the statement reads.

It added: “Notwithstanding the investigations, the Government of the Gambia is required under the terms of the financing agreement to settle the ineligible expenditure, otherwise the Global Fund will recover twice the amount of the ineligible expenditures (that is twice the amount alleged; twenty million Dalasis.). This will adversely affect the Fund’s operations in the country.  It is within this context that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs reached an agreement with the Global Fund to settle the ineligible expenditures with a payment plan of four installments over a period of two years, beginning March 15th, 2023. This course of action is saving GMD10 million and was mutually agreed with the Fund whilst every effort is being exerted to recover the funds.

The ministry of finance in collaboration with the ministry of health, the release added, will ensure that all appropriate and necessary actions are taken to address this matter. “We urged the general public to be patient pending the finalisation of the investigations by the police and the next cause of action to be taken by Government. The Government of HE Adama Barrow will deploy all means to fight corruption,” it concluded.

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