Sunday, December 4

Assembly urged to expedite anti-corruption commission

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Action Party (GAP) deputy leader has urged the National Assembly to expedite the process of reviewing and passing the anti-corruption bill.

Omar Beyai warned that corruption is a major challenge to Gambia’s goals of ending extreme poverty.

“The perceived corruption in the Barrow administration ranging from procurement to other dubious dealings, which includes the recent incident concerning the fisheries sector, is a major concern and setback to this country’s development,” Beyai told The Standard.

Corruption, Beyai added, has a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs and reducing access to services, including health, education and justice.

“The poor pay the highest percentage of their income in bribe as they are seen as powerless to complain. Every stolen or misdirected dalasi robs the poor of an equal opportunity in life and prevents governments from investing in their human capital. Corruption erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. This is cause for concern for The Gambia, as corruption fuels and perpetuates the inequalities and discontent that lead to fragility, violent extremism, and conflict,” he added.

He resolved that countries capable of confronting corruption use their human and financial resources more efficiently, attract more investment, and grow more rapidly.

“GAP recognises that corruption comes in different forms. It might impact service delivery, such as when an official asks for bribe to perform routine services. Corruption might unfairly determine the winners of government contracts, with awards favoring friends, relatives, or business associates of government officials. GAP recognises that making inroads against corruption often requires determined efforts to overcome vested interests. Transparency and open governance are typically part of the story, but rarely the whole story,” he stressed.

Corruption, he added, is a global problem that requires global solutions.

“This is why since the formation of GAP we have been working to convince the government to set-up an anti-corruption commission to mitigate the pernicious effects of corruption. We believe fighting corruption should combine a proactive policy of anticipating and managing risks,” he noted.

Beyai said it is GAP’s opinion that the government should start subjecting all potential government projects to rigorous scrutiny and work with clients to reduce possible corruption risks that have been identified ahead of setting up of the anti-corruption commission.

“When approaching anti-corruption, it is important to put in place institutional systems and incentives to prevent corruption from occurring in the first place. Prevention also calls for credible deterrence, relying on accountability and enforcement mechanisms sufficiently strong to send a message to potential wrongdoers of the potential cost of their misconduct,” he added.