Government weighs in on ‘Securiport’ Corruption Allegations

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Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, Deputy Government Spokesperson

In the wake of a flurry of misleading news media reports regarding Securiport, the corruption perception of Transparency International (TI) and related matters, The Gambia Government wishes to clarify the circumstances surrounding these allegations in a press release dated 14th February 2023. The release which was signed by Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, the Deputy Government Spokesperson, indicates the following:

“For the record, the audit report on Securiport is not new.”

That this was originally published in November 2022, when the auditors adjudged that it was a force majeure issue, due to the refusal of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to incorporate it into the airline ticketing system. That the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) of the National Assembly discussed the major topics including a nine  month lapse in levy collection during the initial stage, and auditory assertion on the recovery of D164m that was unjustifiably paid to Securiport.

According to the release, the Barrow Government as a pragmatic arbiter of checks and balances, took FPAC’s recommendations seriously by establishing a taskforce to investigate and renegotiate the terms and conditions of the Securiport contract by engaging IATA to include the levy into cost of air tickets.

The release indicated that without delay, the Government simultaneously engaged the Attorney General for appropriate actions regarding this issue, and said the Justice Ministry is of the opinion that the contract may be breached or be in conflict with another existing one.

“In fact, The Gambia is not the only country implementing Securiport’s services. Countries like Senegal are also using Securiport,” the release indicated.

Meanwhile, the release also stated that the Barrow Government remains firmly committed to transparency in Public Financial Management (PFM) and deserves commendation for creating an enabling environment for accountability.

He said thanks to PFM reforms on governance, risk management and internal control processes across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), institutions are allowed to operate freely in accordance with their respective mandates. He added that this is visible in the activities of FPAC, Internal Audit, National Audit Office (NAO) and The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).

Furthermore, the release adds that the digitization of the Government payment systems and platforms allows for easier revenue collection, which exercise is accompanied by legislative processes such as the enactment of the Public / Private Partnership (PPP), State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the Anti-Corruption Bills, demonstrating Government’s strong commitment to fight bad governance and corruption.

The release also states that crucially, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA) has now enhanced resource mobilization and has cleared the backlog of unaudited Government accounts.

“Retrospectively, the Barrow Administration instituted the ‘Janneh Commission’ and fully implemented its recommendations, albeit with challenges of the current democratic dispensation to guarantee justice,” the release adds.

That finally, the recent Public Expenditure and Financial Assessment (PEFA) shows a significant improvement by The Gambia Government, as recognized by the US Government’s approval of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding for the country.

These indices, the release said, are more reflective and certainly more objective than Transparency International’s (TI) perception measure of corruption which seldom recognizes government efforts.