Bah Commission: CEO Says Basse Area Council Dishonoured Procurement Rules

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By Makutu Manneh

Ousman Touray, the former CEO of Basse Area Council Wednesday admitted blatant disregard of procurement rules at the aforesaid Council.

The Local Government Commission of Inquiry is conducting a full and impartial investigation into the local government councils to enhance transparency and accountability. The Commission is conducting a holistic and fair review of the financial and administrative operations of the councils.

The Compliance Report by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) for 2018 revealed that the Basse Area Council conducted 963 transactions of Single sourcing amounting to four million seven hundred and eight thousand five hundred and ninety-three dalasi (D4,708,593). A single-sourced transaction means selecting one business entity or company for a contract. It is unlike open tendering, which requires competition among bidding companies or entities.

In 2019, for the Basse Area Council, there were One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirteen (1413) transactions of single sourcing amounting to Eight Million Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Thousand, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Eight and Nine Bututs (D8, 424,728.9). In 2020, there were One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty-One transactions of single sourcing amounting to Seven Million Nine Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty-One Dalasis Forty-Four Bututs (D9, 965,951.44).

In 2021, there were eight hundred and eighty-eight transactions of single sourcing amounting to Seven Million Four Hundred and Thirty-Seven Nine Hundred and Thirty Dalasis Thirteen Bututs (D7, 437,930.13).

The Commission, like the officials of GPPA, noted that there was not a single procurement or contract at the Basse Area Council that was subjected to open tendering otherwise known as competition. What is obvious and confirmed by both the former CEO (OusmanTouray) and former director of finance (LaminSuso) was that their preference was always using single-sourcing.

The procurement laws regulate all procurement methods including single-sourcing. The law makes provision for a threshold for single-sourcing at Twenty Thousand Dalasi (D20, 000) for goods and services. This means anything above this threshold should be subjected to open tender or competition. The Basse Area Council preferred and continued to use single-sourcing in the overwhelming majority of their contracts.

Ex-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Touray admitted that the Basse Area Council between 2018 and 2023 has not been following procurement rules.

In The Gambia, the procurement rules are dictated by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) Act and the GPPA Regulations.

 “Almost all procurements were done through single sourcing – without subjecting them to competition,” Counsel Patrick Gomez said.

Ex-CEO Touray said what was happening at the Basse Area Council was wrong.

“You awarded contracts to people as it pleases you. Why did you allow that?” Counsel Gomez asked.

“It was a wrong procurement method,” the witness answered.

Counsel Gomez told Touray  they were awarding contracts for kickbacks, but Touray disagreed saying he did not receive kickbacks for any procurement activity done by the Basse Area Council. Nonetheless, he admitted that there was no competition for procurement in said period.

When asked why they were not following GPPA rules, the witness said at the time they had the opinion that single sourcing of procurements was the right procurement method. Lawyer Patrick Gomez further asked the witness whether he and the former Chairman (Foday Danjo) knew about procurement rules. The witness said he knows the procurement rules.

On how they awarded contracts, this was what Ousman Touray said: “We just asked the vendors [suppliers] to send their quotations, but we do not advertise it.”