As the Supreme Audit Institution of The Gambia responsible for watching the spending and management of public resources by the government of Gambia and all public bodies, the National Audit Office (NAO), yesterday revealed government’s spending millions of dalasis without due process and proper justifications.
The National Audit Office during the Phase 1 launching of Gambia’s Covid-19 Response on the Procurement and Distribution of Food and Medical Items in the Greater Banjul Area, on Thursday 21 April 2022, disclosed missing contract documents vouchers for six transactions worth D63,775,000 million.
“In many cases, the institutions responsible for the different sectors of the Covid-19 response failed to provide accurate, valid and verified documents to us and other times, no documents were provided at all,” the report stated.
On keeping and tracking of documents, the report explained that all documents of procurement and spending of public money are essential for responsible reporting.
The report added that in the pandemic where emergency expenditure is unavoidable, government must maintain good and transparent record keeping systems to ensure public expenditure reporting is easy and accurate.
According to the report, the Ministry of Health bought hand sanitizers and plastic buckets at over D3.2 million to supply the National Assembly but because there were no delivery notes to show that they were supplied to the National Assembly, the NAO could not confirm if the items were received.
The report said that the Ministry of Health could have saved D27.7 million if they made timely procurement and negotiations for the transportation of the 10 ambulances and other medical items to The Gambia.
Further, the report continued that contracts were awarded and payments were made for food and medical items worth D116 million and D2.2 million using a single source procurement method without obtaining GPPA approval.
“Contractors whose prices were way above the government regulated price ceiling for rice, sugar and oil were chosen rather than the cheaper options. This procurement resulted in an estimated additional spending of D9.7 million which is a waste of public money and violation of the Emergency Powers Regulations 2020.”
Highlighting on more findings, the report stated that the Ministry of Health signed a non-negotiable contract with a supplier whose prices were much higher than quotes from other suppliers and market rates.
“On our assessment,” the report added, “D86 million could have been saved had they had gone with different suppliers rather than the one they chose,” the report continued.
In addition, the report stated that contracts worth D98 million were awarded to two suppliers whose business registration certificates were not provided. “This casts doubt over the legal status of these businesses with potential loss of revenue to government through non-payment of tax.”
Moreover, the report states: “In most findings, the various management of the institution responsible for the Covid-19 Response claimed that the discrepancies were due to the emergency nature of the pandemic. “We acknowledge the role that the urgency of the pandemic could play, but yet a lot of issues remain unjustified and could be prevented if the rules were followed,” the report noted.