National Assembly FPAC Demands Repayment of Unused COVID-19 Funds

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By Kebba  AF Touray
The Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly (FPAC) on Thursday, 14 September gave an ultimatum to entities to return and account for unused COVID-19 funds and undelivered food packages.
During the peak of Covid-19, the Gambia Government disbursed funds to entities as relief support and those funds were intended for specific purposes. However, the auditors discovered that some of the funds were not spent.
FPAC considered the audit report and made demands for the repayment of the funds. The demands of the lawmakers affected the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the Gambia Tourism Board, the Grant Management Agency, the Gambia Press Union and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health.
The Committee said the Executive Director of the NDMA must account for all undelivered food items within ten (10) days to the Auditor General and FPAC, failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution.
“Also, the same Executive Director of the agency to account for the shortage of delivery of Oil by the International Commodity Insurance worth GMD 37, 653, 700.00 and the money to be deposited to the National Treasury within 10 days and notify the Auditor General and the FPAC, and failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution,” the lawmakers said. 
The lawmakers requested the Executive Director of the NDMA to provide to the Auditor General and the FPAC the certificate of confiscation of the damaged food items by the Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) within 10 days or risk possible prosecution. 
The lawmakers said whereas the executive director fails to deliver the items/sum mentioned above, upon expiry of the deadline, the Government of The Gambia must consider sending him on administrative leave pending the outcome of the supposed police investigation.
Also, the lawmakers submitted that the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health must produce the missing payment voucher in respect of the payment of GMD1, 650,000.00 to the Auditor General and the FPAC within ten (10) days; failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution. 
“The same permanent secretary is asked to recover the sum of GMD 1, 165, 548. 00 being an overpayment to COVID-19 Frontline Workers and paying the sum to the Accountant General, notify the Auditor General and the FPAC within ten (10) days; failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution. 
“The same permanent secretary must provide to the auditor General and FPAC all material evidence relating to the request of quotations from the independent bidders within 10 days, failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution,” the body discloses.
The Assembly also requested The Gambian embassy in Beijing, Madrid, Addis Ababa, and Abu Dhabi, to return all unpaid Covid-19 money meant for Gambian students amounting to GMD 1, 380, 186.08, to Accountant General Department and notify the FPAC by the end of October 2023 or risk being prosecuted.
The deputies said the Director General Gambia Tourism Board (GT Board) must provide material evidence regarding the GMD 7, 821, 105.00 queried by Auditors, to the Auditor General and the FPAC within 10 days; failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution. 
“The same director general must account for the GMD 202,000.00 being a difference of sums of money received from the government for payment to individuals in the informal sector, within 10 days; failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution.
“The Grant Management Committee (GMC) and Gambia Press Union (GPU) must return to the Accountant General Department the sum of D585,159.86 being the unused money for the COVID-19 relief support to media houses, within 10 days; failure of which, the Inspector General of Police to launch an investigation for possible prosecution,” the legislative body reveals.