Friday, December 8

NAMs Break Silence Over Constituency Dev. Funds Amid Lack of Accountability Claims

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ByBinta Jaiteh

Some members of the National Assembly have responded to questions raised around the utilization of constituency development funds amidst allegations of lack of accountability and consultations with beneficiaries.

Since 2020, the National Assembly has been disbursing money to legislators as a constituency development fund but some members have been accused of not being transparent and accountable to their constituents when it comes to the utilization of the funds.

In its attempt to establish the veracity of some of these reports, The Voice confronted some legislators with these claims.

“I cannot speak on behalf of other National Assembly Members. I don’t know this issue of a non-consultative approach. I cannot also belabor on that. I can only talk on my own behalf. Mine was very, very consultative. It was plowed back to the people by way of disaster management or disaster mitigation…getting them a few bags of rice…159,000 bags of rice,” the National Assembly Member for Latrikunda Sabiji Yahya “Menteng” Sanyang said. He went on: “The National Assembly had conducted their audit. If you can get to the National Assembly, they will tell you who is found wanting because they have done their audit. Few people in my constituency received a call to confirm whether they had received the bag of rice.”

According to him, he received D275,000 from the legislature in its last cash disbursements.

When contacted, the National Assembly Member for Nianija, Amadou Camara, began by explaining to this medium the size of the Assembly’s allocations when put to him that some of his colleagues received D275,000 as constituency development fund: “ Point of correction…D300,000 is the allocation to the budget. It’s not up to my knowledge how much I received but it’s the D300,000 that is earmarked and you identify your project, then the rest of the administrative processes are done by the office of the clerk and then they would open tender and bidders will bid…That is the process. But I know you have to pay tax, VAT and the like. That’s why they will not give you all the money. That’s what I learned but our responsibility is to identify projects.”

Asked about his response to allegations of lack of transparency and accountability in the utilization of the funds, the Nianija MP said: “I can only speak to myself. I work hand in glove with my constituency and ward development committees. So, it’s the ward committee and constituency committee that sit down and say this is what we need for the people this year. That’s how we are doing. The first allocation was in 2020 but unfortunately, all the funds were diverted to Covid response. In 2021, we started implementing it. We identified two projects. We procured a milling machine for the community of Barbeli and drilled a borehole for Kerr Gibi. For 2022, the whole money was spent on the rehabilitation of a…clinic.” 

When contacted, the member for Bundungka Kunda, SulaymanJammeh, said: I think it’s better we talk about this issue in person. I used to be a councilor. So, my development goal is…For me, I am continuing and there is nothing like accountability because accountability…you should go to the Parliament because they are the ones, who account for these things. The monies are not given to the members directly. You identify your projects and the monies are disbursed to vendors after delivery. So, mine was more or less community lighting…streetlights. Apart from that I have been doing a lot of things in terms of support to youth. If you go to my page, you will see everything. My page will say everything.”

To Be Continued…          

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