He said: “The development impact of theft [of public resources] in massive scale is devastating. Corruption can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune. It leads to depletion of natural wealth.”
Mr Sonko made these comments while laying before the National Assembly a United Nations anti-corruption instrument, which was unanimously ratified by the assembly – the 156th country to do so.
The ratification of the United Nations Convention against corruption which came into force in 2005 obliges states “to prevent and criminalise corruption, provide international cooperation to recover stolen assets and to improve technical assistance and exchanging of information in both private and public sectors.”
Minister Sonko told deputies: “Corruption at the highest levels of government degrades public institutions especially those involved in public financial sector governance. It weakens or even destroys the private investment climate, hampers delivery of basic health and educational services and harms the poor the most.
“My ministry is committed to fight against corruption in view of the fact that corruption hinders efforts to achieve internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals and impacts on education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and trade.”
The National Assembly member for Upper Niumi, Mam Cherno Cham, who seconded the motion, noted that the government of The Gambia had been fighting against corruption at all levels since 1994.
Assuring the assembly’s support in the fight against corruption, he added: “We have legislated laws to fight corruption in this country. We must denounce corruption in all its forms as it undermines development.”
Also contributing, the Member for Serekunda East, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, who doubles as the majority leader described corruption as the father of all evils.
He said: “Corruption poses a serious threat to human security and development. No country can claim that they are corrupt-free. So it is everyone’s business to join the crusade against corruption. We at the National Assembly are ensuring that public funds are not embezzled or wrongly used.”
Meanwhile in a separate matter, Minister Sonko informed the National Assembly that plans have been underway for the introduction of biometric passport.
He revealed: “Biometric passport has a clip for reading the details of the holder while machine readable passport does not. It also has fingerprints reader for identification and enrollment of applicants, once enrolled into the system your details cannot be altered, used or manipulated by document fraudsters.”
By Sainey Marenah]]>