The management of the Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency (GLMA) was on Thursday put to task by the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly for violating its mandate to engage in the buying and selling of meat that leads to great losses for the government at the Legislative Chambers in Banjul.
"Dr. Jallow and his colleagues should know that they have violated their own Act. We have the same problem with the AMRC. You have losses of D1.1 million in 2010 and D2.4 million in 2011. I am afraid more losses would come in the future if you continue to engage in the buying and selling of meat", asserted Hon. Lamin K Jammeh, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Illiasa.
The honourable member for Illiasa argued that the Agency does not have the mandate to engage in the buying and selling of live animals. He observed that their mandate is to facilitate and not to participate in the business. He questioned the reason for giving loans to butchers without any loan scheme in place.
"Why didn't you take heed of the government to get your receipts books at the GPPC instead of going to the private printers"? We want to know the number of receipts books you purchased from the private printers and the money involved?" he enquired.
Hon. Alagie Sillah, NAM for Banjul North, asked how the Agency goes about determining the prices of stocks when they have no control over the source.
"The marketing has never been the mandate of the Agency in 2010. The then Deputy Minister of Agriculture directed that we go into the marketing. There was also a directive from the Office of the President saying, 'provide meat or'", said Dr Demba Jallow, Director General of GLMA.
DG Jallow did not complete the statement from the Office of the President giving directives to provide meat. As for the loan given to the butchers, he said they have a mechanism in place to recover them in default, he would be responsible. He argued that the Agency cannot determine the price of animals outside but can determine the price of meat in the country.
Sarjo Mbenga, the Financial Director of the Agency explained that she found her predecessor was using the private receipt books and thought it was not a problem. She said she also decided to continue until asked to quit the practice. The external auditors revealed a total of 375 private receipts books were purchased, out of which 317 books were used.
"We were directed to intervene at a particular time. We are not imposing any prices. We will encourage parallel market. We are not seen as profit making body", asserted Dr Denis Carayol, Chairman of the Board.
Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader and Member for Serrekunda East in his intervention tried to explain the purpose of the Agency. He argued that the Agency is a regulatory framework and not to engage in the buying and selling of meat. He complained about the depression of the private sectors from emerging.
"The government has put the Agency to make sure the average Gambians are not cheated", he pointed out.
However, Director General Jallow indicated in his report that the Agency was created by an Act of parliament in 2008. He added that the activities commenced only in January 2010.
"The mandate of the Agency is to promote the commercialization and marketing of livestock in the Gambia. We facilitate the participation of Gambians in the marketing of livestock", said Dr Jallow.
According to the report, the Agency is responsible of disseminating weekly livestock and meat prices to the general public. It establishes a price determination mechanism and marketing information system through consultative forum established by the Board. It constructs and leases out license butcher shops and kiosks which meet national food safety and zoo-sanitary standards.
The report also highlighted many operational constraints affecting the Agency. It has a small budget and narrow resource base compared to its mandate. It lacks trucks for the transport of animals from livestock buying points to market centres. It also suffers from the unpredictable nature and ever escalating prices of live animals destined to slaughter for meat coming from the neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, several interventions and observations were made by the various members and subject matter specialists as well.
Mr. Ibrahima Sanyang, the representative of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority opined that the Agency was found to be mainly compliant with the regulations of the Authority.
"The reason we call you is to review what you have done in the period of 12 months. This is not a court. We want us to work together to achieve our objective", said Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly.
Subsequently, the report was adopted and session was adjourned till today 14th January 2013.