Sunday, December 4


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By Alagie Manneh

The United States Government is concerned about corruption in The Gambia, particularly in procurement and awarding of state contracts.

US ambassador to The Gambia, Richard ‘Carl’ Paschall, who made the trepid remarks, said his government’s concerns have already been channeled to The Gambia Government.

He said the US Government “will keep a very close eye” going forward on procurement and national contracts.

“The other big area that we are deeply concerned is corruption. This is not something that is necessarily addressed in the [US] Fiscal Transparency Report but when it comes to the awarding of national contracts [or]state contracts, we are deeply concerned that the procurement process be transparent and fair, and that level playing field for companies that wish to come in and bid on projects, Gambian companies or international companies that wish to form partnerships… We are keeping a very close eye on that because…I think there have been some awards or some decisions to some infrastructural projects that have not necessarily been made as transparent as we believed,” the top US diplomat told The Standard.

He said it is the US government’s considered view that the people of The Gambia can only get “the best value out of government infrastructure or other government projects when they are open and transparent”.

“We will continue to advance our interests and concerns that that [transparency and fairness]continue to be the focus in this government,” ambassador Paschall said.

Mr Paschall was speaking in a virtual Election Day Conversation with The Standard, organised by his Mission. The political engagement forms part of the US Embassy’s public diplomacy Election Strategy for the U.S. Elections 2020, and discussed the history of U.S. elections, major players, debate culture, Electoral College, and how U.S. best practices can be replicated in The Gambia, especially as it relates to debate, democratic governance and accountability of political actors.

Turning to U.S Elections, ambassador Paschall replied when asked if fundamental changes be expected in US immigration policy – which has undergone a sea change since the inauguration of Donald Trump – if the former reality TV star loses his re-election bid:

“If you look at the two different platforms, from the two different campaigns, certainly, there are distinctions and differences but at the heart of the matter is US immigration law. There are a lot of concerns in the US about immigration policies and laws and some people have proposed legislations to change some of those laws but much will depend on what administration – whether it’s President Trump successfully being re-elected or former vice president Joe Biden elected.”


A less-interventionist America

The former deputy Counterterrorism Coordinator for Operations Policy and Military Coordination, a deputy assistant Secretary of State-equivalent position, said President Trump’s less-interventionist approach has become popular in the U.S.

“There is a sentiment in US to be engaged less in overseas conflicts. Obviously, when US interests are at stake, I would expect either administration to take decisive action, both in the realms of diplomacy, military or otherwise. I don’t think that decisiveness would change,” he stated.


Racism, inequality

The diplomat said corrective measures are already being taken by stakeholders and other groups to address issues surrounding inequality and racism.

“I think that there’s too much energy and focus in the US and across all walks of life to try to confront those [issues]and to try and find the right way forward to address the inequalities in the United States,” Mr Paschall said.