By Momodou Jarju
The National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government and Lands, Ombudsman and ICE has on Thursday rejected reports of the Basse Area Council (BAC) because they were incomplete.
Ousman Touray, CEO Basse Area Council, presented all the activity reports for the year 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. But like the Janjanbureh Area Council, BAC failed to send their financial statements for the periods under review to the audit office for auditing.
CEO Touray said they were unable to send the financial statements on time due to circumstances beyond their control. He claimed that they sent the statements few weeks ago.
“Frankly without wasting time, all these were sent to the auditors. Then without waiting for their feedbacks then due to time constraints we went ahead to prepare these documents,” he said.
However, the subject matter specialist of the committee, Bakary Trawally, denied this claim. He said they are not aware or did not receive any financial statement from the council.
CEO Touray then said he assumed office in July 2019 and thus, his team is doing all it takes to right wrongs within the council.
Foni Brefet deputy Sunkary Badjie asked the chairman of BAC whether he has the right person who can prepare standard financial statements as per the requirement of the national audit office.
The council’s chairman, Foday Danjo, responded in the negative. He said since they took over in 2018 there weren’t competent financial personnel to manage the finance department, adding that the then acting finance director was under suspension due to his incompetency.
“But as I speak to you now, we are trying to adjust ourselves because we sent some of our account assistants to MDI to train them so that when they are back our finance department will be very equipped and we will not fall into mistakes anymore,” he assured the committee.
Vice chair Yakumba Jaiteh said they have to reject the activity reports because of the absence of other reports aforementioned and called on the council to take responsibility to ensure it never happened again. Jaiteh said, on the issue of financial director, they have been informed that the person in the position is acting.
“But nevertheless if you are acting, you are paid allowances for acting. Therefore you take responsibility as if you are in that position and you should do what is supposed to be done,” she said.
She said the absence of the financial statements has impeded the committee, thus rendering their meeting in vain. According to the young lawyer, this is contempt. She quoted section 110 of the Constitution for the council to understand the seriousness of the offence.
“It says any act or omission that obstructs or impedes the national assembly in the permission of its function or which obstructs or impede any member of the national assembly in the discharge of his or her duty or affronts the dignity of the national assembly shall be a contempt of the national assembly and in addition to any liability in respect thereof under the criminal law, the offender shall be liable to reprimand or admonition by the national assembly and if the offender is a member of the national assembly, suspension or expulsion from the national assembly,” she said.
Meanwhile, the committee indicated it could not continue due to lack of documentation of the financial statements for the periods under review and thus, rejected the reports of the council. The committee has given them three months to put their house in order and report back to them.