In the past few days, the members of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) of the National Assembly of the Gambia has beenscrutinising the public finances of some institutions in the country and there sittings and reports make for some somber episodes.
The Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, and the Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board have all been told by the Finance and Public Accounts Committee to produce documentation for some Covid-19 items within ten days.
According to the FPAC resolution, if any of the said institutions fails to provide the requested evidence within the stipulated tie frame, the Inspector General of Police will launch an investigation for possible prosecution. This stance underscores the importance of fiscal discipline in government and other public institutions.
There is no gainsaying the fact that without proper and stringent accountability measures, no country can fight and eradicate corruption and therefore no form of development will take place. This is particularly important in a poor country like The Gambia where most of the national budget depends on loans and grants from foreign agencies.
The Finance and Public Accounts Committee is the committee which scrutinises all public finances and is mandated to invite any office-bearer in the public service to answer questions to their satisfaction. If they fail to establish the whereabouts of certain amounts they may instruct the Inspector General of Police to open investigations into such institutions or individuals as seen in the report above.
Among the issues raised by the National Assembly also is the disbursement of the funds that were given to the media as relief during the Covid-19 crisis. In that instance also the FPAC was not satisfied with the documentation and therefore called for its proper accounting.
This process is not only important but necessary as well for the progress of the country. All public institutions must understand that they are required to cooperate with the FPAC to ensure that their finances are in order. This is a prerequisite for development.