By Mustapha Darboe
The vehicles recently given to parliamentarians were provided by “a supporter” of President Adama Barrow who wants to be anonymous, Amie Bojang, spokesperson of the presidency told journalists yesterday.
President Barrow came under criticism after news emerged that he donated dozens of vehicles to lawmakers, a style that critics said was reminiscent of former president Yahya Jammeh.
“They were from a philanthropist who supported the president during his campaign. If you can remember, the two vehicles that were given to GRTS were part of the same sets of vehicles,” Bojang said.
“What happens was, these vehicles came in by sets, and when the president got the first support, he said he did not want to give some and deny others. So when everything was completed, that’s time the handing-over was done.”
However, despite the professed goodwill from the presidency, some lawmakers have questioned the president to reveal the source of the vehicles while the four PDOIS lawmakers turned down the offer.
“I have not been offered and I don’t know the conditions of the vehicles nor do I know the sources or conditions in which they were given,” Suwaibou Touray of Wuli East told this newspaper last evening.
“I am a member of the National Assembly and I should exercise an oversight role over the executive. The question is: Is it from the president or the government? I need a vehicle to do my job but I can’t take a vehicle the source of which I don’t know,” he said.
Declaration of assets
Following directives from the Office of the President, all cabinet ministers have finally declared their assets to the ombudsman, the presidential spokeswoman revealed.
Barrow, backed by seven political parties and an independent, has campaigned on the promise of transparency and accountability, which he said, will be the hallmark of his administration.
However, activists said the declaration of assets to another public institution, the ombudsman, which is not going to make them public, has defeated the purpose. But Bojang disagreed: “This office is completely committed to transparency because that is why we have voted for change,” she argued.
One of the pressing issues facing the Barrow administration is energy inefficiency characterised by frequent power outages.
President Barrow visited the national energy company, Nawec, two weeks ago to see the works that are being done to provide electricity to the population following barrage of criticisms directed at his government.
Mrs Bojang said the energy company has recently received a lot of interest from foreign companies to fill its investment gaps.
“Regarding energy, a lot of proposals are on the table and the government has to look at all those proposals to see which one is in the best interest of the country,” she said.
Recently, some key players in the industry have expressed worry that government’s desire for an immediate solution to the energy crisis might have forced them into an unproductive deal with the Turkey-based Kinesis Company.
But Mrs Bojang denied any knowledge of a power purchasing agreement between Nawec and Kinesis, adding that there is a special committee that is vetting all companies that have expressed interest in investing in the state’s energy industry.
“Regarding Kinesis, a discussion is going on and there is a committee that was set up to work on all proposals that have been sent to government and that discussion is on.
“Kinesis is proposing a generator and not alternative or clean energy… Kinesis has expressed interest to work with The Gambia in the area of energy and we have been consulting with them for a long time with respect to Nawec,” she said.
“I cannot confirm if they were awarded the contract. I know there were several companies that have expressed interest in investing in Nawec and their proposals are being reviewed.”