By Mama A. Touray
Mr. Ebrima Sanyang, the director of procurement policy and operations at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), giving his testimony at the ongoing Local Government Commission of Inquiry (LGCI) last week stated that the law prohibits area councils from trading with suppliers that are not registered with the GPPA but the Masakoko Area Council by purchasing 655 bags of rice worth D4, 025,750.00 from NemasuEnterprise.
In his testimony before the commission at Djembe Hotel, Senegambia, he said, on the 2020 procurement report the Mansakonko Area Council purchased Six Hundred and Fifty-Five (655) bags of rice for Four Million and Twenty-Five Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Dalasi (D4, 025,750) from Nemasu Enterprise.
“The supplier, Nemasu Enterprise, was not registered with the GPPA and the law prohibits area councils from trading with suppliers that are not registered with the GPPA,” he stated.
As per the above figures, Sanyang noted in his statement that it means each bag of rice costs a little over Six Thousand Dalasi (D6,000).
Counsel Patrick Gomez, the Deputy Lead Council of the LGCI in his observation to the witness that the procurement was done to defraud while asking the witness the cost of a bag of rice. In response, the witness said the highest price for a bag of rice is Two Thousand Dalasi (D2,000).
Jainaba Bah Chairperson of the Commission informed the witness that the GPPA report is not consistent. Adding that “Something is fishy”
while adding that “When the amount is small, you (Gambia Public Procurement Authority) will clearly state the issues and the violations- both the compliance and the non-compliance issues. But, when it comes to the big sums, you embedded them in the reports and you do not clearly state the violations. I will agree with the council that something is fishy. You have to read (for us) to clearly see the violations.”
Meanwhile, Director Sanyang agreed with the submission of Counsel Patrick that the price was exorbitant.
Sanyang informed the commission that Section 24 of the Gambia Public Procurement Act of 2018 makes it mandatory for suppliers to register with GPPA to be eligible for the award of public contracts.
Adding that Mansakonko Area Council did not carry out a prequalification procedure to determine whether the suppliers registered with GPPA or not.
He stated that Non-registration with the Authority is interpreted as a probable failure to pay tax since Gambia Revenue Authority Tax Clearance is a prerequisite for Gambia Public Procurement Authority registration. Adding that “It is a potential loss of revenue to the government, in particular, the Authority”.
He informed the commission that during the interview with a staff of the procurement unit of Mansakonko Area Council GPPA observed that interference in procurement processes was very high.
He also testified that they further observed that there was only one (1) staff at the procurement unit for the first six months of 2019. In addition to that, he said the team further observed that the procurement unit was under the Finance Department for the first six months of the year.