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Saturday, August 13, 2022

GRTS satellite was purchased with loan guaranteed by SSHFC

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By Baba Sillah

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Abdoulie Jallow yesterday explained how the satellite of the state broadcaster, GRTS was purchased during the former regime.
Testifying before the Janneh Commission, PS Jallow recalled that the ministry received a letter from the office of the president in 2009 instructing it to take loan from Trust Bank without an interest. Jallow said the loan was guaranteed by SSHFC.

Mr Jallow at that point was given a copy of a letter from the office of the president, which he confirmed but claimed that he did not know the events that preceded the loan until when the ministry received the letter, which outlined two projects.

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PS Jallow also explained to the inquiry that he thought the ministry was not aware of the projects from the inception and upon receiving the letter, they had an internal discussion, stressing that it was not the burden on the state broadcaster rather the government.

He confirmed that SSHFC was to guarantee the loan, which was suggested by Trust Bank. However, Counsel Njie told him that a letter from SSHFC indicated that the directive was from the Ministry of Finance and not from the office of the president.

PS Jallow responded that there was no obligation on SSHFC to accept the letter from the Ministry of Finance and could have even rejected it, noting that it was the responsibility of the former government to settle the loan to SSHFC which was supportive.

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It was further put to him that the Sankulaykunda bridge project was personally handled by the former president and in response, he said he was not sure.

He adduced that they could not get the Ministry of Works to apply for the loan for the implementation of the Sankulaykunda bridge and that was why they decided to use GRTS to apply for the said loan.
However, he acknowledged it was wrong to do that, hence the loan for the bridge had nothing to do with the national broadcaster. He added that he knew about the GRTS Satellite Link account at the Central Bank but he did not know that it was the ROC funds which were put in that account.

He stated that Trust Bank had recovered the loan, and that the bank had debited SSHFC with $1.8 million. He said the former government was therefore obligated to pay SSHFC.

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