Tuesday, June 6

Local Gov’t Ministry PS sheds light on salaries, allowances

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Testifying yesterday before the commissioners, the witness was shown a file, which he identified as Area Council Staff Salary file. The document, containing a list of council staff salaries was admitted into evidence as LCG16.

Referring to Folio 90 of the file, he said: “The document is approval letter from the Ministry to all the councils, dated 18th July 2019. [It is] approved salaries and allowances for CEOs.”

The witness further referred to Folio 89 of the document, which he said is the approval salary and allowance increment for 6 LGOs, dated 16th July 2019 and addressed to all the councils.

Asked why it was only 6 local government authorities that were included in respect to Folio 89, he replied: “Yes, because the other councils, like Banjul and KMC, their CEO salaries have already gone beyond the limit as per the level of the other CEOs. So if we have to regularise, we only adjust the required allowance as per the Act.

“That is exactly what we brought in to adjust their allowances. There were some allowances which were not paid to the CEO. So as per the Act, we bring all those allowances that are entitlements of a CEO to be inputted. But for Banjul and KMC, their basic is way beyond that. For that one, if we have to regularise, we have to bring them down, which is not the best practice. That is why we omitted them together with their chairperson, [and]mayor so that we look at that separately.”

He also acknowledged that as per the document, the chairman’s basic salary is D10,000, with a responsibility allowance of 6,000, a telephone allowance of D2,000, which makes his or her gross pay D18,000

Moreover, he confirmed before the Commission that the deputy chairman’s gross pay is D9,500, while the councillors receive D4,000 salary, car/transport/trekking allowance of 1500 and region/ward allowance of 1000, which makes their gross pay D6,500.

He also confirmed that CEOs receive a salary of D13,500; responsibility allowance of D3,000 and  telephone allowance of D1000, which makes their gross pay D17,000.

The Commission also heard that there are further allowances to councils officials who have bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees depending on their job, with the highest allowance for this being D3,122.53

“Yeah, this is the basic salary with the allowances as per the positions they occupy,” he confirmed.

The witness further stated: “So we went through what is obtained and bring all those allowances out to say, ‘if you at the position of a CEO, this is what the Act provides for your basic salary and these are the allowances that you are entitled to,’ because if you have a car, you are not entitled to a car allowance; we have seen instances where a CEO has a car and was given car allowances as well. So these are the things that we cleaned up and then bring in the actual allowances as per the Act.

A file which the witness identified as Area Council Staff Allowance file was also marked as LCG17 and tendered into evidence.

Referring to Folio 90 of the said file, the witness stated that it is a letter from the Brikama Area Council, dated 28 January 2020 and addressed to the permanent secretary, requesting for approval of payment of allowances for councillor.

He acknowledged that the BAC was requesting D4,000 transport refund for its councillors to attend council meetings. Asked whether the transport allowances councillors are being paid doesn’t cover such meetings, the permanent secretary said that it depends.

He told the Commission that council can request allowances based on facts on the ground, whether the transport allowance, or even any other allowance, is sufficient or not, adding if they realised that it is not, they could seek the minister’s approval for such requests.

Mr Sayang added that the minister can then look into the matter and if it is in line with the Act, grants approval.

Referring to Folio 93, which came around the same time as with the request for a transport refund, referring to the fact that they could not have meetings due to Covid-19, the witness was asked to tell whether the D4,000 transport allowance was actually approved, despite the fact that they could not attend physical meetings due to Covid in 2020.

In response, he said he believed they must have been approved. He stated this request for transport allowance came during the early stages of Covid, when they were still having meetings, adding that even if they could not meet, once the approval for payment had already been done, they would be paid.

He said some of these payments once approved were given even if the actual activity did not take place. Mr Sayang said some of these things are entitlements once approved have to be honoured, adding that sometimes councillors spent more than what is approved.