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Friday, September 18, 2020

Information on Gamtel/Gamcel 50% sale not available – Perm sec Finance

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Mr Jallow, who appeared yesterday before the PAC/PEC session, which has begun their scrutiny of public accounts and enterprises told lawmakers that the document relating to sale was still not available to the ministry but said: “We are still making arrangements to get hold of the documentation… From the records, the outstanding balance of US$6.5 is not received. The legal status of Gamtel/Gamcel has [since] been regularised.  The Gambia government [now] owns 99% of shares and GPA owns 1%.”

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It could be recalled that at the last sitting, PAC/PEC urged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to provide an update to the joint committee on the outcome of the 2013 report and broad policy issues and recommendation.  Key among them were the information on the 50% sale of Gamtel/Gamcel to Spectrum, the denial of access to key information to the auditor general, debts owed to GRTS, non-retirement of imprests, backlog of audited accounts of the central government (2011-2012).

Responding to the 2013 joint PAC/PEC recommendations on backlog of audited accounts of the central government for year 2011-12, Mr Jallow enunciated: “The financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2011 have been audited and laid before the National Assembly, while the audit of the financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2012 is in progress.”

On the misuse of contingency funds, he informed the members that the ministry took note of “the observation and has taken measures by strengthening the monitoring of expenditures”.

on the issue of un-presented  payment vouchers, Mr Jallow told MPs that most of the vouchers were subsequently provided to the auditors who included in their analyses, debit memos (cancelled payment vouchers), salary journals, cash management transactions (bank adjustments), credit memos (retired imprests) and vouchers raised but subsequently cancelled without payment.

He said these items were not payment vouchers and or were never paid through the bank stressing that due to the decentralisation of documents from 2007 to early 2010, not all the documents relating to embassies were separately filed at the DNT system and control unit.

Speaking on PAC/PEC recommendation that for 2009-2010 some payment vouchers had no supporting documents which violated the financial instructions, Mr Jallow said: “There is duplication/overlap in this query to the one immediately above (payment vouchers without single quotations) as the auditors have mentioned same issue of single quotation being attached to some vouchers. A document management module is planned to be implemented as part of the IFMIS to ensure that all supporting documents are scanned and attached to the electronic payment vouchers. This would provide a trail of documentation where the original hard copy is misplaced for some reasons.”

On the material overdue loan to Gambia International Airline  (where the joint committee said a loan of about D66.6 million was disbursed to GIA to pre-finance the 2009 Hajj which was to be refunded immediately after the pilgrimage, and only D45 million was repaid, leaving D21.6 million outstanding at the time of the audit) Mr Jallow said: “This outstanding balance has been settled through netting-off arrangements with GIA. The balance was net-off against air tickets that government owed to GIA.”

On the auditor general’s access to information, Mr Jallow said his office, treasury directorates and National Audit Office have formed a committee that looks into all matters relating to the audit exercise adding: “Relevant information requested by the auditors is compiled and provided through the membership of this committee, and the committee meets periodically to review the progress of the ongoing audits.  The ministry never denies or hinders access to information to the auditor general. But certain documentation or information were not available at their request.”

Meanwhile, as part of the new procedure adopted by PAC/PAC, the ministry will reappear to take questions from joint session members on the recommendations and responses provided by Mr Jallow.

Meanwhile, officials of the Internal Audit Directorate at the Ministry of Finance presented their 2013 report yesterday.

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