Monday, March 30, 2020

NA Select Committee Frowns at Area Council Director’s Oblivious Claim

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By Momodou Jarju

Parliamentarians were disappointed by the statement of the Finance Director of Janjanbureh Area Council, Bubacarr Manneh, who claimed that he didn’t know they were supposed to submit reports for auditing without request from the National Audit Unit.
Members of the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government and Lands, Ombudsman and IEC recently heard testimonies from staff of the Janjangbureh area council.

Initially, Director Manneh claimed their area council submitted all the reports from 2015, 2016, and 2017 for auditing.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the council, Samba Leigh, also agreed with his finance director. He said the financial statement was audited, claiming it was sent to the audit unit but they did not receive any feedback. “This is why everything delayed,” he said. The CEO later appealed to the select committee to give them time to prepare the reports.

But their claims were dismissed by the subject matter specialist of the committee, Bakary Trawally. Bakary Trawally, who is also the director responsible for area councils under the National Audit Unit, denied the claims of the CEO and the finance director of the council that the financial statements for 2015, 2016 and 2017 were sent to them for auditing. He said the council only provided the management letter without the financial statement.

“And what they were asked to do last year is to go back and prepare a financial statement and submit it. I think that is the gap here. These things that they have submitted {are} not audited financial statements, that are what is lacking,” Trawally said.

When asked to explain why they didn’t submit the financial statements for the period under review for auditing, Director Manneh said he did not get any request from them to send it directly.

“I don’t get any request from them to send it that’s why I did not send it. Otherwise I would have sent it,” he said.

When asked again by vice chairperson of the Committee Yakumba Jaiteh whether he knows that it is his responsibility to submit the financial statements three months after the end of each year, he responded in the negative.

“It is not for the auditor to request this document, it is for you to send it to them for auditing, this is your responsibility,” Jaiteh informed him.

Director Manneh responded: “Then I was not aware that I should send the report to them before the deadline that you have mentioned.” He added that the financial statement has been written.

Other members then took turn to delve on the matter.

Hon. Bakery Njie, deputy for Bundungka Kunda and member of the committee, argued that the council knew what should have been done contrary to what the finance director claimed, saying last year, they were informed of the same issue.

He expressed his disappointment that the council staff were telling them that they did not know that they should have submitted a financial report.

“We believe that you know because we told you last year. There is a law and you must follow the law. We have given you enough time. We were not expecting this at all. So you cannot come here again and be demanding for more time or giving us excuses. This is unacceptable. What we expected from you is to submit this thing by now. But it seems that your house is still not in order,” Hon. Njie said.

Momodou LK Sanyang, deputy speaker and member of the committee, also rubbished the council finance director’s claim. He said the constitution should be respected and the council’s act is unacceptable.

Sunkary Badjie Foni Brefet deputy and member of the committee said to err is human, but ignorant of the law is not an excuse.

Hon. Lamin J Sanneh, Brikama South deputy and member of the committee, said the council has a backlog of three years.

Hon. Kebab Jallow, Jarra Central deputy and member of the committee, said they have to do away with what they used to do and abide by the Constitution.

Nonetheless, the matter was put to rest when the chairman of the council accepted that they did not perform up to expectation and thus appealed to the committee to give them another chance to do the right thing. They were later given three months to report back to the committee.

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