By Omar Bah
The Minister of Health Ahmadou Lamin Samatehon Friday explained to the National Assembly measure put in place by his ministry to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of the Covid-19 funds.
The minister was reacting to reports of corruption allegations at the Ministry of Health after an internal memo, leaked on social media last week, revealed Health Minister Dr. Samateh seriously condemning his Director of Planning for including his name in the list of persons proposed to be paid Covid -19 allowances.
Explaining the issue to the lawmakers, Dr Samateh said: “Yes, we know we have people amongst us who will not change and will not give up trying (corrupt practices). They will keep on trying but will they succeed? That’s the issue. So if people try, and their efforts leaked, I don’t think that calls for alarm.”
The minister went on to unreservedly apologise to lawmakers for the slowness in providing logistics, saying: “What we did, when I went to see the minister of finance, was to statethat we need to make an expeditious and judicious use of these funds because it’s emergency, but procurements need to be done first but under those circumstances people can abuse them.”
Minister Samateh said the Covid-19 Emergency committee comprises the PS ministry of health and a few senior members, PS ministry of finance, few senior members from there, the Accountant General, the director of internal audit and the director general of GPPA.
He said the committee sits over every procurement issue “so that they can decide and make sure there is transparency and accountability at that high level. And they report to us and we see what they have decided on. Every request goes through them, the disbursements, all these things go through them.”
“I said to the people who are responsible for making the list for these allowances that I the minister of health, I don’t want any allowance, I don’t want any honorarium, I don’t want any butut, I am doing sacrifice for my country irrespective of the challenge. Now few days down the line, they put forward a long list of many names. Now that list did not get to me for vetting, it went straight to this committee and this committee detected that it was bogus and I was alerted and we withdrew it and I told them to withdraw it and we reprimanded them for that. So this is what is happening and we are observing all the processes,” he clarified.