By Kebba Secka
The Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly headed by Hon. Halifa Sallah on Thursday 1st November adopted the financial and activities reports of the Gambia International Airline (GIA) on condition that members of the committee would be inspecting the then Managing Director’s car whose maintenance cost earned D778,676.78. This came by a way of a proposal put forward by Hon. Alagie Jawara and unanimously accepted by members of the committee to see such a type of car.
The said sum, according to the current managing director, Saloum Malang, was spent on repairing and maintaining the MD’s car BJL 6244H but that this still did not make the car fully operational. To shed light on the said sum, Gambia Public and Procurement Authority’s (GPPA) Baba Y. Darbo said the records of the expenditure on the MD’s car was not among the items provided to them during the procurement exercise and that was why it was not captured in their reports. “The D778,676.78 spent on the car’s maintenance was not presented to GPPA and that was why, we did not capture it in our reports,” said Baba Darbo. He added that when they made review demands of some items, disposal of some vehicles were not provided to them upon their request for Procurement. “Surprisingly, the Auditors did capture it in their reports when it did not pass through us, (GPPA),” he said.
While scrutinizing the reports, members of the committee took turn in seeking clarification on doubting issues such as how GIA makes decisions without a functional board. Hon. Bakary Camara of Foni Bintang Constituency asked management to guide the committee on how it operates in terms of making decisions without a functional board committee. He referred management to his presentation where they mentioned that sometimes in 2015, there was no effective functional board committee for the GIA.
In response, MD Malang said: “Decisions were normally taken by senior management team.” Dwelling on capacity building and retention of able staff, Hon Jawara asked management whether they do bind sponsored students. “Yes, we have binding policy for sponsored overseas students but students trained locally are not bound,” replied MD Malang. He was asked by Hon. Bakary Camara to explain how the reduction of loan occurred in the 2015 financial activity reports. In response, MD Malang said: “There was a special committee that was responsible for managing the state aircraft that dealt with the type of loan you are asking for. I have no idea about that,” he told the committee. Challenged by the Hon. Chairperson to tell the committee who would be the relevant authority to supply the committee with the needed information, MD said: “Perhaps, the outgoing board.” Managing Director also took the opportunity to highlight the committee the challenges faced by GIA in 2014/15 respectively.
Management went on to highlight that $2.2 million was secured from Zenith Bank for the construction of the GIA Corporate Complex. According to them, the loan would be paid over a period of seven (7) years. Revealing Gambia Government’s Loan to the GIA, management said D8.4 million was obtained from the Japanese Non Project Grant Aid in 1994 given to the then Gambia Airways offshoot company of GIA. The funds were utilized to procure Ground Support Equipment in 1994. Management further explained that when Gambia Airways was liquidated in 1996, the assets together with their cost (loan) through the MOFEA were transferred to the newly created Gambia International Airlines Ltd. “This loan is payable over 10 years at interest rate of 5% per annum. Covenants of the loan were for GIA to keep comprehensive reports of the assets, to provide the lender with information relating to the assets financed by the principal loan,” said GIA management.