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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Salary reduction for NAWEC staff-wither fairness and Justice?

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Dear editor,

The report of the Commission on State-Owned Enterprises which was submitted to President Adama Barrow on Wednesday contained some quite unprecedented recommendations, including a 5 percent reduction of salaries for staff of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) for its failure to meet “Key Performance Indicators (KPI) targets set for 2021-2022.”

Whatever the terms and conditions of the performance contract that the government signed with NAWEC were, it is hard to see how the staff could be collectively liable for the institution’s failure to meet its targets. Therefore, reducing their salaries would tantamount to a collective punishment. It would have made more sense if the sanctions affected only the top echelons of the institution who should be directly held responsible for the company’s performance rather than the lower level staff who have no control over its management and direction.

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It is also worth noting that the present Minister of Energy was either the managing director or holding quite a senior position during most of the period under review, and yet despite NAWEC’s dismal performance, President Barrow still went ahead to elevate him to the position of minister in charge of the same institution.

Therefore, the question that many people tend to ask is whether Minister Nani Juwara would also lose 5 percent of his salary as former MD of NAWEC, otherwise, it would be quite unfair to punish the rest of the staff when he as head of the institution at the time is exempted. That would be the height of injustice.

DA Jawo

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Where is the NAWEC missing millions? Still no accountability

Dear editor,

In March 2021, it was reported in the media and confirmed by NAWEC that D15.5 million was fraudulently withdrawn from their account in AGIB Bank. Here is Kerr Fatou’s interview with the NAWEC PRO at the time in this video. Since then, media reports claim only D1.7 million and two vehicles were retrieved through a police investigation. Where is the rest of the money?

In its 2021 annual report, AGIB Bank mentioned this matter under the sub-heading, ‘Other Liabilities – Provision for Nawec Fraud 13,460’. The explanation the bank gave in their report states,

“Provision (Nawec Fraud) – This relates to a cyber-fraud on one of Nawec’s current account with us totaling D15.50 million dalasi. The case is still under investigation with the Gambia Police Force. The reason for the provision of only D13.46 million was because of part recoveries by the police including D2.04 million cash which has been deposited in an account with the bank and some valuable assets seized including two vehicles.”

The question remains, where is the rest of the millions? Since 2021, there has been no public information about this case from the Police, NAWEC or AGIB Bank. The SOE Commission which looked into NAWEC for the same period did not mention this issue when they met the President last week. Until they published their report, the public would not know if the matter was mentioned or not.

But since the SOE Commission said NAWEC underperformed woefully in 2021 by achieving only 30% of the targets set in their key performance indicators, could this missing-million fraud be part of the reasons for this abysmal failure? Instead, what we have seen since 2021 is how water and electricity supply continued to be not only more erratic but also more expensive as NAWEC continues to increase the tariffs unjustifiably. The SOE Commission should speak about this issue if they are truly committed to building strong, transparent, efficient and accountable public enterprises.

Until now no one in the Board and Management of NAWEC has been held accountable for these missing millions. If NAWEC was a personal company of any of the members of the Board or the Management, they would not ignore their 15 million dalasi to disappear just like that. Yet it is now three good years and the Board and Management of NAWEC have not done anything meaningful to recover people’s money.

It is obvious that these missing millions were the responsibility of the Board and Management and not the junior and hardworking staff in the field. Yet the SOE Commission would dare deduct 5% from every NAWEC staff’s salary for the corruption in NAWEC.

It is indeed a shame that the President, the Minister responsible for NAWEC, and the IGP did not find it necessary to take any stronger action on this matter. Since 2021, no NAWEC or AGIB directors have been arrested or prosecuted to account for these missing millions. No serious government or institution could lose so much money, yet no one is held accountable. Shame!

Madi Jobarteh


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