During a heated parliamentary debate last Friday, the Minister of Health told the lawmakers that the individuals who attempted to misappropriate the funds meant for the fight against Covid-19 have been reprimanded.
With all due respect to Minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, a reprimand is not enough. The unscrupulous, callous, heartless and merciless public servants involved in the scandal must be immediately named, shamed, arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to those who misappropriate our meagre resources.
Since the Government announced the allocation of 500 million-dalasi fund, in an effort to contain the deadly virus, questions have been raised about the way and manner the funds will be disbursed. Some have even suggested the distribution of free rice to the hardest-hit families. At the moment, many families go to bed with empty stomachs as the closure of non-essential businesses started to grind. The bulk majority of our people live from hand-to-mouth so the partial lockdown is taking a toll on many needy and underprivileged families. The Government is yet to come up with a plan to this effect. Nonetheless, individual philanthropists have been generously dishing out cash, foodstuffs, sanitary equipment to the needy.
It’s an open secret that most of our African countries, including the Gambia, have been plagued with endemic corruption, but it’s inconceivable that someone would think of plundering public funds in these trying times. The Government, should, therefore, be extremely tough with those involved. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. After all, I wonder when our country will develop and prosper if we continue to have such crooks running our affairs!
The World Bank recently announced the allocation of 10 million dollars to help Government in its fight against the pandemic. These funds should be judiciously spent in an accountable and transparent manner. History will not forgive anyone found wanting in these hard times.
Basidia M Drammeh