By Tabora Bojang
The director general of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abubacarr S Camara, has admitted that staff who were sent home with half pay during the Covid-19 pandemic did not receive their pending monies because there was no directive to do so.
Camara was responding to lawmakers’ questions into allegations of corruption and irregularities in the award of contacts for the construction of eco lodges among other things following a petition sent to the parliament by aggrieved staff in 2021.
The petition implicates senior staff of GT Board and the ministry of tourism, all of whom denied any wrong doing.
The staff alleged in their petition that following a mass resistance against the awarding of the contract to Lerr Group, the authorities used the Covid-19 situation to send some staff home with a salary cut and, in their absence, subsequently signed the contract with Lerr Group.
Responding to committee chairman Suwaibou Touray’s question on whether staff that were sent home during Covid were paid their remaining half salaries, DG Camara replied: “We were not given instructions to pay them. Of course, I would have been very happy to, if we were given instructions to pay them but there was a reason why everybody was paid half salary.”
But Touray further charged: “No! Not everybody was sent home.”
Camara reacted: “Yes, I mean the people that were sent home” Camara clarified. “Like I said if we have instructions, we will be more than willing to do it but it has to be documented.”
The Wuli East lawmaker further pressed: “Who should give you the instruction?” DG Camara replied: “Well you know where the instruction should come from. The people that ask us to pay them half salary.”
“Who ask you to pay them half salary?” NAM Touray enquired.
Camara replied: “Well when I came, I received a letter that says so.”
It was also alleged that some of the suspected petitioners were moved from the GT Board head office and redeployed to the regional offices because management was not happy that they wrote a petition.
When put to him that these senior staff were redeployed because management was displeased with them for opposing the conduct of contracts, DG Camara denied it.
“It was in line with the national tourism strategy to promote domestic tourism,” he added.