BY: Kebba AF Touray
National Assembly members on Monday June 25th, adopted the report of the Public Enterprises Committee (PEC), after scrutiny and consideration. Tabling the report before deputies, the Chairman of the National Assembly Select Committee on Public Enterprises Halifa Sallah, said PEC is established by Section 175 Subsection (4) of the 1997 Constitution and is required by Law, to submit their report to the National Assembly, as per Section 175 Subsection (5) of the Constitution.
Halifa explained that PEC is established by Section 175 Subsection (4) of the 1997 Constitution which states: “within six months of the coming into force of this Constitution, an Act of the National Assembly shall establish a committee to monitor the operations of Public Enterprises, and shall prescribe the manner in which such enterprises shall be accountable to the National Assembly and shall conduct their affairs in order to promote efficiency, transparency and probity in all their undertakings.”
Halifa said in fulfilling its Constitutional mandate, PEC convened the first phase of its oversight sessions from the 30th October to 16th November 2017; that the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), were scheduled for review in the first phase; that PEC is cognizant of the fact that its monitoring activities must be based on the requirements of the law, particularly the constitution and other relevant laws, as well as standards of best practices known to experts in the monitoring, analysis and evaluation of the performance of Public Enterprises.
“The Committee engaged the Auditor General, Subject-Matter-Specialists (SMS), and the Directorate of Public Private Partnership and Public Enterprises of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, in order to benefit from reports of a diagnostic study on the state of Public Enterprises in the country and the fiscal risks related to weak monitoring processes and lapses in general oversight,” he said; that in commencing its monitoring role, PEC considered the diagnostic report given by the Directorate of Public Private Partnership and Public Enterprises, which underscores the importance of 13 core Public Enterprise conceived as the backbone of the sector and the Committee therefor resolved to accordingly give priority to those institutions in its review exercise.
Halifa explained that NAWEC was the first enterprise whose management appeared before the Committee, to present its audited financial statements and activity reports and the management of NAWEC comprising the Director General, the Deputy Director General and the Financial Director, indicated that their reports for 2015, was not complete and requested for more time to remedy the backlog in order to provide the Committee with the documents required; that during the meeting, the management of NAWEC explained what gave rise to the arrears in presenting annual reports on the Company’s activities and Finances; that the committee resolved that NAWEC must submit its 2015/2016 activity report and audited accounts in March 2018, and its 2017 reports in June 2018 respectively.
“The committee resolved to invite the Management and Board of Directors of all Public Enterprises, to a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday 21st November 2017, at 11:00, and further resolved to invite the Management and Board of Directors of all Public Enterprises, to a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday 21st November 2017, to discuss on the timely submission of their activity reports and audited accounts, which aims to take note of the opinions of stakeholders on the matter, in order to set a deadline for the closure of arrears in the delivery of relevant reports,” he said.
He disclosed that PEC held a meeting with all the Public Enterprises, to discuss matters relating to late submission of activity reports and audited accounts to the National Assembly.