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Friday, May 24, 2024

The per diem Saga

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The Per-diem saga surrounding Bakary Badjie cannot be spinned or explained away. It is simply wrong and disappointing. The best first step is to acknowledge that a terrible judgment was made and then move to remedy the situation.

Drawing comparisons with others who might done the same is neither here nor there. Bakary, is one of those young politicians who came to change “the old ways “of corruption and ineptitude. Therefore, we cannot and must not excuse his actions with “others have also done it”.

Just because your spouse was invited does not mean that the state should pay her a per-diem.

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 Pa Samba Jow

Just some clarity…

Bakary Badgie knew his wife is not a public or civil servant. She does not work for the government, nor was she on government duty. So, a state minister would have known such a person is not entitled to benefits that come with being on national duty (per diem).

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Some say he made calls to inquire if his wife was entitled to per diems. The question you ask in response to that is this: why didn’t Bakary Badgie call to ask if it was right for HIM to be paid per diem?

Because Badgie knows it was okay for the minister to be paid per diem, no matter how questionable the circumstances may be. And he also must have known it was not right for a spouse of a minister to be paid per diem. That is why he will make such an inquiry to appease his conscience.

And the other issue is that if the so-called invitation from Commonwealth says a minister can come with a “accompanying guest”, why does that have to be his wife? They said the accompanying guest is normally a Minister’s spouse. Then why didn’t they put “Minister’s spouse” in the letter as they seek the per diem payment but instead used “special guest”.

Meanwhile, she was not even allowed to go to the Commonwealth games. She instead got two per diem payments and went to the Islamic Games in Turkey, according to reports. Now, we know, if the reports are correct, the Commonwealth invitation is out of it for her since she could not get a visa. And the whole point is the invitation which she still used to travel to Turkey for Islamic Games. On what basis? The same Commonwealth letter of invitation?

So, the trip to Turkey has nothing to do with an invitation!

The other thing is the argument that it was an invitation from Commonwealth and the condition was to go with an “accompanying guest” and in Bakary’s case a spouse. So, it is now the Commonwealth that decides our expenditure priority? How could Commonwealth decide how the Gambia spends her money?

Shouldn’t the Commonwealth have shouldered that cost?

So, the invitation thing is not even relevant to the conversation because it is not the Commonwealth money we are talking about. We are talking about the reason why Gambian taxpayers’ money is used.

And also, what was the use for a state minister at that place? Sports journalists have told me some time back that Bakary has actually cultivated a habit of traveling with a sports team. He was reportedly at AFCON for the life of the period our players were there.

If that is true, isn’t that insane? You are talking about the cost of the trip (tickets and others), the cost of the stay (hotels and food), and the cost of the absence of a key supervisor (state minister) at a whole ministry.

The issue that she did not get a visa to travel to England and use the money is not even relevant. Per diems are not paid to people who are not on an official trip. Only the President of the Republic has that luxury!

For a government that could not increase salary by 100% it promised civil servants because of revenue shortfalls, this is criminal!

And government has recently passed a regulation to limit per diem payments to 14 days. This dude was at AFCON for close to a month… I heard. But for me, it is the shitstem! No accountability at all. That is why everyone does as they please

Mustapha Darboe

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