By Mama A. Touray
The Local Government Commission of Inquiry on Monday noticed that the Basse Area Council (BsAC) implemented about 28 projects for the period under review.
However, according to the council’s former CEO, he could not tell whether any of these projects were part of the council’s procurement plan. He added that the council did not have the funds to implement the projects.
Asked whether there was a real expectation by the time the council proposed the projects, Ousman Touray replied: “Frankly, we cannot fund all these projects.”
The commission further noted that the BsAC’sproject implementation cost for 2023 was D33.5M and the commission’s Chairperson Jainaba Bah put to Touray that the projections were not based on any realistic figures.
“You just assumed and drafted a document,”Chairperson Bah stated.
“You are right,” Touray responded.
He testified that some of the projects in the 2023 budget were included in the previous years’ budgets, adding that some of the projects were allowed to be part of the budget when in actual sense there was already a decision that those wards won’t get any project.
“Why do you give the people expectation that they will have something when you know they won’t get anything,” queried Lead Counsel Yakarr Cox.
“It’s not right,” Touray replied.
“These are the same people you collect revenue from. If you were in their shoes, would you have paid tax when you don’t know where what you pay goes,” the lead counsel said.
“It will be difficult to get anything from me,” he answered. He was, however, quick to point out that the budget should be realistic so that the projects will be program and resource-based.
“Mr. Touray, if you had followed the rules, you would have got a good budget and now you are waiting for a new system when you don’t know how it works,” the lead counsel contended.
“All these problems boil down to lack of reconciliation,” the former CEO said. He agreed with the lead counsel that the council did not do what it was supposed to.
Touray further agreed with counsel Cox that it’s going to be difficult for the council to function with a new system when they cannot comply with the simplest system.
“You will agree that it is the people that are the problem and not the system,” asked the counsel.
“Yes, it is the people that are the problem and I am part of them,” Touray concurred.