Gambia: Minister Samateh Says They Have Reprimanded Those Who Wanted to Misappropriate Coronavirus Funds

The Minister of Health Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh told Parliamentarians on Friday that there was no need for alarm because they have reprimanded some individuals who wanted to misappropriate public funds meant to combat the coronavirus.

Dr Samateh said: "We know we have people among us, they will not change and they will not give up trying to steal. They will keep on trying, but will they succeed? So if people try, and their trial leaks, I don't think that calls for alarm."

Samateh's clarification came on the heels of a leaked letter showing how some officials wanted to misappropriate public funds under the pretext of allowances. This came after the Barrow Administration set aside five hundred million dalasi for the war against the Coronavirus.

Samateh said: "What we did when I went to see the Minister of Finance, I said, 'this thing, first we need to make an expeditious and judicious use of these funds, but because it's emergency, procurement needs to be done first but under those circumstances people can abuse them.."

According to him, he suggested to the Minister of Finance Mam Boury Njie that he was going to set up a committee to be responsible for procurement. He said the Finance Minister told him that he was going to support him to ensure the initiative was put in motion. He added that they later established a committee consisting of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and a few senior members; Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, few senior members from the aforesaid ministry; the Accountant General; the Director of Internal Audit and the Director General of GPPA.

Minister Samateh said the responsibility of the Committee was to sit over every procurement issue so that they can decide and ensure transparency and accountability issue.

" And they report to us (Ministers of Health and Finance) and we see what they have decided on. Every request goes through them, the disbursements, all these funds go through them," he added.

Minister Samateh added that he told a group of people that were responsible for preparing a list of those eligible for allowances that he did not want any allowance or honorarium. He said he further told them, "I don't want any butut. I am doing sacrifice for my country irrespective of the challenge".

He added: "Now few days down the line, they put forward a long list of many names. Now that list did not get to me for vetting, it went straight to the committee and this committee detected that it was bogus and I was alerted and we withdrew it. And I told them to withdraw it and we reprimanded them for that. So this is what is happening and we are observing all the processes."

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