The auditors noted a difference of D1,380,186.08 between funds received and recorded in the embassies’ cashbooks and payments made to students.
The report stated no documented guidelines or policies or eligibility criteria exist to guide the management of the support to overseas students. “In some countries, students on government scholarship received support allowance whilst students in other countries did not receive the allowance. As such, eligibility and selection criteria were not stipulated at the outset,” the report stated.
It also explained that the government of The Gambia, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA), allocated 29.1 million Dalasis as relief package to Gambian students studying overseas who are not under The Gambia government scholarship. As at the end of September 2020, D18,997,480.00 was disbursed to The Gambia embassies in respect of the overseas student relief package.
“The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology (MoHERST) is responsible for the administration of the payment to The Gambia Embassies, who then disburse the entitled amount to the beneficiary students.”
“The purpose of the relief package is not achieved hence there was no clear eligibility criteria used.”
The Committee recommended that payment of allowances to support students during the pandemic should not be carried out without clear eligibility criteria.
It further recommends that Embassies should ensure that unused balance of funds received should be retired to Accountant General’s Department immediately.