By Makutu Manneh
Hakim Bsina, the Managing Director of 5C Energy yesterday 9 October 2023 testified before the Local Government Commission of Inquiry about the contract they had with Basse Area Council (BsAC).
5C Energy is the contractor responsible for the revenue collection devices for the Basse Area Council. The company provides the council with revenue collection devices and the contract is for ten (10) years in which they are to share the profit made above the revenue baseline of the council’s revenue.
MrBsina testified that the council informed them that their revenue baseline is 14 million Dalasi; adding that in this case, their agreement with the Basse Area Council was that any amount above 14 Million Dalasi would be shared equally where the Basse Area Council would take 50% and 5C will also take 50%.
“The agreement is such that anything more than 14 Million will be subjected to the profit-sharing ratio,” he said.
He said to verify that 14 million is the council’s baseline, they were provided with ledgers of the council, bank statements, account books, tariffs, and other information to verify.
The witness said the ledgers, accounts statements and other documents of the Basse Area Council that 5C Energy used to do verifications were not handed to him by the former Country Director of the Company.
He informed the Commission that in 2020 and 2021, the Basse Area Council owed the company 3 million Dalasi, out of which, the Council paid D800,000 but they have still not paid the remaining balance.
At this juncture, Deputy Lead Counsel, Patrick Gomez, informed the witness that the revenue collected at the Basse Area Council was more than 14 Million from 2019 to date and that in 2019, the revenue collected was beyond 20 million.
“In 2019, the total revenue collected for the Basse Area Council was twenty-one million, six hundred and four thousand seven hundred and ninety-one thousand Dalasi nine Butut (D21,604,791.09). In 2020, the total collected was over 27 million Dalasi,” Counsel Gomez said, with the witness responding that he did not know that.
The witness said he sent over 5 emails to the Basse Area Council requesting information regarding their financial earnings but the Council did not provide him information. He added that the authorities of the Council did not reply to his email.
Counsel Gomez put it to the witness that all the figures were wrong because 5C was benefiting and the figures were also manipulated.
However, Bsina disagreed with the counsel and tendered 35 documents to the Commission showing different correspondences he had with the Basse Area Council. The documents were all admitted into the records and marked as exhibits.
Hakim testified that on the 16 of May 2020, he received a letter from the Basse Area Council indicating that the revenue baseline was twenty-one million Dalasi (D21,000) for 2019. On 8 June 2020, the Area Council came up with a letter titled “Revised baseline” saying the baseline for the tax revenue was 14.7 Million Dalasi in 2021.
He added that the reason the council gave was that the 21 Million earlier stated contained non-taxable revenues including grants and subvention from Government while the 14.7 Million is the taxable revenue.
The witness was shown the budget of the Council, which shows that the grant was only five hundred thousand Dalasi.
“The figures were altered in favour of 5C Energy and Basse Area Council in order to maximize profit,” Lawyer Gomez said.
The witness said his company has not made any profits from the contract with the Basse Area Council considering they have made huge investments.
Hakim further stated that his company does not have a hand in those letters as they came directly from the council.
In 2021, the council through the Director of Finance Lamin Suso wrote to 5C Energy informing them that the total revenue for 2021 was 7 million Dalasi.
The witness testified that he is not a shareholder in the company and that the company has not had an office in the country. Asked whether the company has assets in the country, the witness said the only assets they have are the gadgets (revenue collection devices).
At this juncture, Senior State Counsel Patrick Gomez referred the witness to section 21 of the Companies Act which makes it mandatory for companies to have registered offices.
The Managing Director of 5C Energy said his company was registered in the Gambia in 2018, adding that they are operating in both Asia and Africa including countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Senegal.
On the contract with the Basse Area Council, Hakim said the company entered a contract with the area council for digital revenue collection in 2019. He added that they have a contract with the Brikama Area Council as well.
He explained that his company’s then Director in the Gambia, Bakutubo Sillah introduced the Basse Area Council to the digital revenue collection system. He said the Area Council found it worthy and entered a contract with them, making his company responsible for managing the digital revenue collection system.
The witness said 5C Energy has two shareholders, namely, Jeroms (Belgian) and Bakutubo Sillah (Gambian).