11 February 2013

Gambia: Startling Revelations About NYC at PAC/PEC

The executive secretary of the National Youth Council (NYC) Thursday made startling revelations before the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly regarding the affairs at the Council.

Marcel Mendy began by sincerely apologising to the members for his absence in previous sittings, and stressing that it was not by any means disrespect to the Committee. He explained that he traveled to attend a meeting on the establishment of Commonwealth Youth Council to defend the interests of Gambian youths.

Responding to issues raised by members to the NYC regarding loans, some missing vouchers during the audit process, outstanding liabilities, how the NYC is working to recover all debts, clarification on the payment to UNICEF regarding the loan from National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI), and challenges and the way forward for the NYC, among others. Concerning the payment to UNICEF, Marcel Mendy said, they could not find the payment vouchers and documents that relate to the payment. He said all these issues had to do with the way the office was run.

"Finally we have been able to lay hands on the payment vouchers which UNICEF officials signed for receiving the money. We have a copy of the payment vouchers concerning receipt of the money," he intimated.

Concerning the money said to have been given to the former permanent secretary Mambajick Njie, former director of NYSS, and former executive secretary of NYC, Mendy told the Committee that it happened at a time when he was not in office. "But what we did was to write to them and inform them about this money they owe the institution and that they must endeavour to pay this money as soon as possible.

"Some of them have called to refute that they took money. We have copies of those letters and it has to do with the former PS of Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mambajick Njie; Honourable Pa Malick Ceesay, former executive secretary of the National Youth Council; former director of NYSS, and former executive secretary of National Sports Council," he stated, adding that his office is still talking to these individuals to come and pay the money.

"The former PS has called to say that he did not take money from the NYC and that the interesting thing is that the PS did not sign the payment vouchers for receiving the money. The payment was prepared by Sulayman Sowe, accountant;authorised by Malang Jassey, former director of Youth and Sports, and approved by Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay, former executive secretary of the National Youth Council," Mendy further remarked.

Concerning the outstanding liabilities that Sulayman Sowe, a former accountant at NYC has to pay the Council, Mendy informed the deputies that they have informed him that this is something he has to settle. According to him, Sulayman Sowe has written to them submitting a payment plan and after consultations with stakeholders including the minister of Youth and Sports, they have been asked to honour the payment plan and to warn him (Sulayman Sowe) to abide by the plan. He added that they have a copy of that payment plan.

Commenting on the challenges facing the NYC as of now, Mendy said they are numerous. According to him, among such challenges are people representing the youths of the country at international convergences without the knowledge of either the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the NYC.

He also lamented that not many institutions are responding to the 'Holiday job' initiative by the Council, which he said is meant to engage young people during holidays. Mendy also described the lack of transport as another challenge confronting the NYC, disclosing that there is only one vehicle at the Council.

He informed the Committee that the current management of the NYC inherited so many debts to be paid to Gamcel, Social Security, Trust Bank and others. He said that the salary at the Council is not attractive, while advocating for an attractive salary package in order to get and retain competent staff.

On his part, Speaker Bojang thanked the NYC executive secretary for telling who is responsible for what, noting that this is what they expected from him even though he was not at the helm of affairs at the time of these transactions.

Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, member for Serrekunda East and Majority leader, told Mendy that he should have notified the Office of the Clerk about his travel. He advised him to do so next time he is travelling.

He also thanked the NYC executive secretary for conducting the research that enabled him to come out with the results. "We are in no doubt of the capacity and capability of the current management at NYC. I believe that you have the potentials to effectively manage the institution," Hon Jatta said, while lamenting that the previous administration of the NYC did not do justice to the institution.

The Committee, after deferring the NYC three times finally adopted the annual activity report and audited financial statement by the National Youth Council (NYC) for the year ended 31st December 2011.

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