Government Ministers Warned of Absenteeism In NA Sessions

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Gambia, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, has warned Government Ministers to desist from absenteeism by attending legislative sessions on their scheduled dates.

Speaker Jatta issued this warning on Monday 6th March, 2023 while delivering the opening statement at the opening of the First Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year. He said it has come to the attention of the National Assembly Business Committee in which it was noted with grave concern that during the previous season, some Ministers failed to appear before the august assembly on their scheduled business dates.

“This is not acceptable to the committee and this has to cease. Therefore, all the Members who are scheduled on business before this assembly are urged and required to attend in person, to their businesses, pursuant to Section 74 of the 1997 Constitution. This is the requirement of the law and as the dictate of parliamentary democracy,” he frowned.

“In this circumstance, the Assembly’s Business Committee strongly reiterates its zero stance on any Minister who fails to attend to his or her business as scheduled, and non attendance is tantamount to contempt of the assembly in accordance with Section 110 of the 1997 Constitution. Similarly, I wish to communicate to all Members of this assembly regarding the ongoing critical attendance by honorable members to sittings and to request for permission for not attending a sitting,” the Speaker said. This he said is a concern to his office and to the integrity of the National Assembly that they all ought to protect, and thus clarified that request for permission to abstain oneself from a sitting of the assembly will only be granted by his office at least a day prior to notice; That for emergency cases, a member may inform the table office the very day a request for permission is made; That the table office’s responsibility is only to take note of the request and engage the office of the Speaker for approval. Thus a call or message to the table office does not mean automatic approval of the request, but rather the table office must get back to the member seeking permission and convey their approval or otherwise on the decision of the Speaker’s office on a request; That by way of an update to the assembly, the appropriation bill 2023 which was passed during the fourth ordinary session of the assembly in the 2022 legislative year, with act number one of 2023, has been assented to by President Adama Barrow, on the 22nd December 2022.

“As we begin the first legislative year 2023, I express my profound gratitude to Allah for our lives and making it possible for us to interact once again in the service of our dear country and people. I pray that Allah continues to guide us through this session. Happy belated and prosperous new year to you all,” Speaker Jatta concluded.