By Binta Jaiteh
Four Area Councils, namely Basse, Janjanbureh, Kerewan, and Kuntaur have lamented their challenges over lack of revenue to carry out their operations as Councils with the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government, Lands, Ombudsman, and IEC embarked on an outreach tour to the rural Gambia.
The outreach tour aimed to identify audits and complaints of all the local government councils, departments, and agencies. The committee is mandated to work to monitor all the departments’ agencies that are under the local government to review, which also has an interface with all the stakeholders to know some of their challenges and achievements.
In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Honorable Sulayman Jammeh, the NAM for Bundungka Kunda, who also doubles as the chairperson of the select committee on lands said the tour is very crucial as it is one of the most important committees. And in terms of decentralization, the Area Councils are the ones on the grass root level.
According to him, it is very important to work in collaboration with the stakeholders to make sure that they can change the status quo of this country. While he added that the committee is concerned as they are committed to their duty.
“We want to live a good legacy that will serve the general interest of the Gambians. This committee is established by section (109) sub-section (1E) of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia and it is entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the function of the National Assembly in considering and advising upon all matters connected with regional government,” he said.
And that Lands and Ombudsman and IEC on issues that are affecting them and the issues that can be put together to enhance their service delivery.
Any councils that “we reach, we demand to see their projects to know what they have been doing, plans that have been put into consideration, and some of the challenges they encounter because it is our duty as representatives of the people to question them on the implementations of the projects as it is the taxpayers’ money.
Most of the challenges they highlighted are lack of revenue, terms of collecting tax is always a challenge, and also the evaluation process because the amount of money paid per compound is very low which has affected most of their operations.”
As far as Councilors are concerned, he said they highlighted their challenges based on the issues affecting them, adding that Councilors are on allowances but not given salaries.
“As far as mobility is concerned, the scope of their work is a concern in the rural Gambia, Councilors play an important role, so it is, therefore, necessary for them to be provided with all the necessary equipment needed to carry out their duties’’ he noted.