By Mama A. Touray
The Budget officer at Basse Area Council, Ousainou Touray on Thursday appeared before the Local Government Commission of Inquiry to testify on the audit report conducted by the National Audit Office on the operation of Basse Area Council.
Testifying on the audit report on the procurement of a vehicle worth D112,000, he said it was not brought to his office and that he has no idea about the procurement.
On the stationary, the audit report indicated that D99,770 was 2022 spent on stationary but the witness said the budget for stationary in 2022 was D548,540.
Justifying why using more than half a million of stationary, the witness said they used to buy rows from the 5C energy, when asked if he had seen an agreement between 5C and the Council, he said he had not seen it.
Mr. Touray told the commission that he didn’t verify the information sent to him, the Deputy lead Council said to him “They give you figures and you approve,” and he responded “Yes”.
Testifying on the construction of Market built in 2021 as revealed by the auditors, the witness said that was not budgeted.
When asked by Counsel Gomez about the procurement of Sharp AC worth D92,000, the Budget Officer replied that it did not pass through his office but he had seen a Sharp AC at the council.
Deputy Lead Counsel Gomez read through the audit report which stated that at the Director of Finance’s residence, there was a procurement of furniture worth D91,531, the witness said there was no procurement of such nature that has passed through his office.
The report detailed that at the Director of Finance’s residence air conditioning was worth D15,000, D14,000 for a mattress, D17,000 for a bed and mirror, 2000 for a center table, and Payment for a protective generator was procured and the witness said “I don’t know anything about it and it did not pass through my office”.
Going through the budget and the audit report to state the items budgeted for and those that were not, Counsel took him on the report while he clarified from the budget if the particular procurement was budgeted or not.
The audit found out that D9,000 was 2021 spent on motor vehicles and motorcycles and the witness responded that the budget for motor vehicles and motorcycles was D2 million.
The report further revealed that D130,000 was spent on a smart TV in 2022, the witness said that was not part of the budget.
On the procurement plan, the witness told the commission that he was not presented with a procurement plan for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Testifying further on the medical bill paid for the staff of the council, Budget Officer Touray said the bill was initiated by the council and was in the budget of 2021, 2022, and 2023 approved by the general council and endorsed by the Ministry of Local Government.