FPAC Reviews Ombudsman Budget Allocation

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Office of the Ombudsman, yesterday, 23 November 2024 appeared before the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) for the scrutiny of budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year.

On the travel expenses of the Ombudsman, the office advanced that they are scheduled to attend meetings, one of which is the meeting to be held in May 2024 in the Netherlands, where the office ought to be represented by a team.

As explained by the office, this meeting and other travel trips are financed from the travel expenses, and based on that, the officials of the Ombudsman held the view that the travel expenses estimated in the 2024 draft estimate is reasonable.

However, FPAC believes that an estimate of D2.3 million is too much for the said services considering the travel embargo that is currently in force. The committee will now make their final decision on the matter.

On conference and seminars, the office estimated a budget line of D150,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasi) to cover their 2024 conferences and seminars, with the committee maintaining the said segment of the budget line.

However, on the sensitization budget line which was estimated at D900,000 (Nine Hundred Thousand Dalasi), the committee deducted D300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dalasi) for sensitization by the Ombudsman.

On the training estimates of the Office, the Ombudsman estimated an amount of D950,000 (Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand, but FPAC reduced it to D150,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasi).

On office equipment of the Ombudsman, the FPAC decided to maintain the estimated amount of Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasi (D750,000). FPAC however cautioned that the said amount will be given but that if it appears in the 2025 fiscal year without expansion and genuine reason, they will give it zero allocation.

The furniture and fittings of the Office of the Ombudsman which was estimated at D500,00 (Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi) the FPAC slashed an amount of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasi (D250,000).

On the basic salaries and allowances estimated at about Four Million Three Hundred Thousand Dalasi (D4,300,000), the FPAC was critical of the budget line, as it has been increased from One Million and Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi in 2023 budget to D4,300,000 in 2024 draft estimates.

The reasons advanced by the Ombudsman’s office are that they are expecting at least 5 new staff for their new office in Brikama, with the salary increment of 30 percent, all of which, as advanced by the Office of the Ombudsman, were factored in the increased budget line for basic salaries.

 Ultimately, FPAC resolved to further scrutinize it by asking the Office of the Ombudsman to resend their allocations of salaries from 2021 to 2023 to the budget office of the assembly for further analysis and to make a decision on the matter.