Friday, June 2

PS Sanyang: Ministry Approves D4000 transport refund for Councilors –

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By Mama A. Touray &

 Ismaila Manjang

Buba Sanyang, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Land on Tuesday told the Commission of Inquiry that the Ministry of Local Governments and Land approved D4,000 transport refund for councilors.

This was said when the lead Counsel Yakarr Cox  showed a file to the witness which he identified to be a letter from the Brikama Area Council addressed to the Permanent Secretary requesting approval for payment of allowances to councilors dated 28 January 2020.

The letter from Brikama Area Council requesting a transport refund of D4,000 to its councils to attend council committee meetings.

Permanent Secretary Sanyang responding to the Commissioner stated that he directed the letter to the responsible officer to verify if the request was in line with the Act.

He explained that “Councils can request based on facts on the ground whether the transport allowance is sufficient or not or any other allowance is sufficient or not and once they find out that this is not sufficient they can seek Minister’s approval for an increment and it will be looked into by the Minister in line to the act and if it is inline it will be approved”

The Permanent Secretary stated that the request by Brikama Area Council was approved though they were not having physical meetings but was quick to explain that “the transport allowance increment came at the early stage, this was 2019 and early 2020. People were having meetings it was not all closed as covid-19 came at the later end of 2019 to early 2020 while the lockdown affected some parts. But then during the covid-19 period approval of allowance does not necessarily mean that if you don’t sit you have to be paid, it is when the approval was given and the councilors cannot meet”.

Meanwhile, the deputy counsel Patrick Gomez referred PS Sanyang to the audit report of the councils and he responded that Audits reports and queries are meant for the council executive and that the CEO is an administrative head and the oversight by the council itself headed by either the Mayor or the Chairperson make sure that this audit reports findings on their council are taken care of.

He also told the Commission that in the absence of all these bodies failing to act the Ministry of Local Government and Land should act by bringing it to the attention and if need be they should bring in bodies like police investigation or any other body to help address the issue. But the primary duty bearer of the audit report is the CEO and the council as a body, he added.

However, referring the witness to the audit report page 17 which highlighted that the following table drawn on the document relates to sample market tickets amounting to D318, 734 which were issued to collectors could not be traced to their cash books.

The PS responded that as a Ministry they were aware of the said Act after it was reported by the auditors, adding that they do inspect councils as to the manpower, procurement process, and some of the day-to-day activities. But quick to add that they cannot detect all these which is why the national audit is auditing the councils to come up with deeper findings on operations.

He, however, highlighted their role as a Ministry saying “Our role is to look at strengthening the system to function, the audit exercise will go deeper to look into this. And once they are detected they will bring it to the attention of the CEO that their tickets are seen to be fraudulent in terms of how people use them, it’s now the duty of the CEO to look into this matter as the first contact person. If the CEO fails to, it’s the council’s responsibility to make sure that these findings which have been brought to their knowledge are being acted on, it is only after those failures that the ministry will look into some of these things.”