8 February 2013

Gambia: More Revelations At National Assembly As the Select Committees Adopts the NYC Report

The Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council (NYC), Mr. Marcel Mendy, at the Legislative Chambers in Banjul yesterday, 7 February, revealed to the joint session of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly the names of individuals including the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as former Executive Secretary of NYC among those who have taken loans from the institution and refused to pay.

"We have been able to get the copy for the payment voucher of the UNICEF Country Representative. The loans taken were at the time of the former executive", disclosed Mr. Mendy.

The NYC Executive Secretary said some of the former executive members whose names were on the document denied taking any money. He revealed that the payment voucher in question was authorized by Mr. Alieu Sowe, former Director of Youth and Sports, while it was verified and approved by Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay, now a National Assembly Member, in his former capacity as Executive Secretary of NYC. He said they have an agreement with Mr. Sowe for payment plans. He also mentioned the name of Mr. Mambanyick Njie, former Permanent Secretary at the Sports Ministry who, he said, has refuted the allegations.

"The audit queries have revealed numerous problems involving one of our own members, Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay, the former Executive Secretary of NYC. What are you doing to recover the loan from him", enquired Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly.

Mr. Mendy told deputies that they wrote to Hon. Ceesay for the refunding of the loans but he has refuted the claims. He said Hon. Ceesay told them not to treat it as loans. He said they told him it was already late as he was the one who approved the payment voucher during his tenure.

The Executive Secretary of NYC has submitted various documents including the payment voucher of UNICEF, the support letter to the Permanent Secretary and agreement letter with Mr. Alieu Sowe, among others, to the National Assembly.

"We are aware that some of these things did not find you in office at the time. We are very grateful for your efforts to get some of these documents for us. We may come back to you for further clarification and information when the time comes", said Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader and NAM for Serrekunda East.

However, the NYC head also highlighted some of the constraints affecting his institution, key among which is the lack of a vehicle. He claimed that the institution does not have any vehicle for official transactions. He lamented their inability to pay membership dues to the international bodies which, he said, has deprived them from many benefits.

Mr. Mendy complained about the low salaries of the staff which, he said, has scared away many competent and qualified young people from the institution. The other complaints he raised include the lack of development funds at the NYC and the inability to represent the youth at certain important meetings that concern their wellbeing.

In his final intervention, the Majority Leader reassured the NYC officials that the constraints they highlighted were well noted. He added that the previous executive had not done any justice to the institution. He recommended for salary increment for meaningful and effective development in the youth sector.

"As for the loans taken by the previous management, we will make recommendations of what measures should be taken", concluded the Majority Leader.

Subsequently, the report was adopted by the members of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, it could be recalled that the reports of NYC were earlier deferred following the discovery of misappropriation of funds amounting to D238,000.

The review of the financial statement for the year 2010 revealed that there was an amount indicated in the financial statement as loss of funds amounting to D163,000, while in the ledger it was indicated as refund to UNICEF. An additional amount of D75,000 supposedly paid to UNICEF was also discovered bringing the total funds misappropriated to D238,000.

The Auditor's report stated that they held discussions with the Executive Secretary concerning the said amount and they noted that the said D163,000 was embezzled by the former Finance Assistant of NYC, Mr Sulayman Njie, who admitted the act, according to an unreferenced letter dated 24th, November 2010, addressed to the Executive Secretary after he had been confronted by management. The Finance Assistant was subsequently suspended by management pending investigation as stated in the letter ref: NYC/HQ/304/1//11 (10-MM) dated 30 November 2010.

"We noted that UNICEF gave NYC D630, 977 through a letter referenced BTR/1050740/00000002543 dated 8 July instructing Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd to credit NYC's Guaranty Trust Bank A/C No: 10-1810010-10. The D630, 977 was provided to NYC to support the establishment of network of school councillors to promote CRC/Child participation", the report indicated.

The report further indicated a letter from the Ministry of Youth and Sports addressed to the Executive Secretary informing NYC that since the Finance Assistant accepted guilt and responsibility, he should be urged to provide payment a plan that is acceptable to NYC and in the event he did not comply with the terms and conditions for the refund, then he should be reported to the police for necessary action.

The report also stated that further examination of transactions relating to the D630, 977 provided by UNICEF revealed that an additional amount of D75,000 was also borrowed from the National Enterprises Development Initiative (NEDI) meant to facilitate a further refund to UNICEF.

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