FPAC Adopts Reports of UTG with Reservations


By: Kebba AF Touray

The Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly (FPAC) has on Tuesday 21st May 2024 adopted the activity reports and audited financial statements of the University of the Gambia (UTG) with reservations. 

The consideration, which was characterized by an intensive interface, started on Wednesday 21 May 2024, and continued on Tuesday, 22 May 2024, during which the committee members put audit queries to the UTG Management for replies.

Some of the audit queries made on the reports of the UTG include but are not limited to the D74 Million difference in revenue between the portal and general ledger, the issues of IT, disaster recovery, asset management, and security of the institution in its contract dealings.

Concerning IT issues, the auditors raised concerns that the UTG does not have any documented and implemented policies such as information, security, and asset management, as well as the non-existence of a disaster recovery plan for the UTG.

Responding to these queries, the UTG Management explained to FPAC that the audit queries are facts, during the investigation into the grades scandal, these issues came up at the level of the council, asking these very questions, as to what control and who can access to what level

Management was made to ensure that these issues happened and that the issue of recovery, is right because the normal procedure is that your backup should not be at the same site as where the system is, as it must always be located at a separate site, so that in case of fire or disaster situation, the likelihood of both being affected is high.

The management thus appealed to the committee to allow them to appropriate it to 2021, to be able to do the necessary assessment, to see where they would be until the assessment is done in 2021.

On the issue of the need to have a legal department to guide the contract dealings of the UTG, the management informed the committee that the Dean of Law has been assigned as Desk Officer, to review legal documents.

The Dean, according to the management, has also been tasked to set up a legal unit as part of his TOR, and as such they have taken note of the matter and will be working on that.

At the climax of the engagement, the Management told the committee that when the UTG was established, the issue of academic credibility was high in the minds of the public, and there was a lot of concentration on ensuring that academic structures were put in place.

“Supportive services were sort of second fiddle and accounting or disbursements of funds were not correctly done, and everything was second fiddle to academic. Consequently, as the UTG came up, whilst the academic systems were being developed, other systems were almost ignored, and this has been a sort of a bad tradition in the UTG for a while,” UTG Management told FPAC.

The management acknowledged that they appreciate the comments made on their reports, and take responsibility for those queries on their report, stating that “we cannot say that we were not there when those things were being done, because we take on responsibility including assets, liabilities and any other responsibility of the University”.

The management assured the FPAC of its commitment to addressing these issues and said they have set out strategies to ensure that their accounts are ready on time for submission to the FPAC, and by extension appealed to FPAC to include them in their schedule for the next engagement, “so that we comply with the timeline set out so that by the time we come back here our commitments are honored”.

Subsequently, the FPAC adopted the reports of the UTG with reservations, which will form the basis of the recommendations that the committee will be developing on its engagements with the entities.