Monday, December 4

Row at UTG over appointment of consultants

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The association alleged that these appointments may not conform to established University Service Rules and are unclear in terms of their mandates.

According to Dr. Ensa Touray, president of the UTG Faculty & Staff Association, the appointments of Mr. Dibba and Mr. Ashcroft raised several important issues. The association believes these temporary appointments may serve as a gateway to their full-time employment at UTG without undergoing the competitive hiring process required for advertised positions.

One of the central concerns raised by the Association is the perceived “blurring of lines” between consultants and employees. Dr. Touray emphasised the distinctions outlined in Gambia’s labour laws and the Gambia Public Procurement Authority Regulations 2018.

Consultants are typically engaged to provide independent services and are compensated accordingly, while employees have a defined role within the organisation. The association argues that these individuals, despite their temporary consultant status, have been placed on UTG’s payroll with pay grades and additional benefits, which is inconsistent with the typical consultant arrangement.

Furthermore, the Association contends that these appointments were not included in UTG’s 2023 Human Resources Budget but were funded through its recurrent budget, which raises questions about adherence to financial regulations.

Dr. Touray called attention to the Gambia Public Procurement Authority Regulations 2018, which emphasises that consultants should provide professional, objective, and impartial advice, holding the client’s interests paramount.

Section 97 (1) of the same regulations, for instance, states:

“Consultants shall provide professional, objective, and impartial advice and at all times hold the client’s interests paramount, without any consideration for future work.”

This extract is one of the many guiding principles that all government institutions must follow.

In response to these governance concerns, the UTG Staff Association recommends that when their temporary employment expires in September 2023, positions falling under the category of temporary appointments (consultants) should be openly advertised to attract qualified Gambians or organisations. They were informed, however, that the temporary appointments of these two consultants had been extended for an additional six months.

This recommendation is consistent with section 8.1 of the terms of the Condition of Service of the UTG:

“Where an established non-academic post becomes vacant, it shall be advertised within the University and nationally with the requirements for filling the post, duties, salaries and relevant conditions of service clearly stated.”

The association also highlighted that the reporting line relationships need to be more consistent with the hierarchical structure of the UTG.

According to Mr. Baboucarr Dibba’s appointment as Estate and Construction Consultant, he must report to the Vice Chancellor rather than the Director of Facilities and Auxiliary Services. In contrast, Mr Sam Ali Ashcroft, the Financial Consultant, reports to the Director of Finance.

This act demonstrates a lack of comprehension of the UTG’s hierarchical structure or deliberately flouts the clearly stated organisational policies.

In conclusion, Dr. Touray and the UTG Staff Association called on the University’s administration to clarify the mandates and arrangements of these consultants, ensuring that they adhere to established regulations and organisational structure. They emphasised the importance of maintaining transparency and upholding university service rules for the benefit of the institution and The Gambia as a whole.