By: Kebba AF Touray
Mr. Ousman Mohammed Cham, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), has informed the Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) that the company has taken great strikes to provide effective and efficient service to the populace.
He informed the Parliamentarians last week during their appearance before the select committee, for the presentation of their activity reports and financial statements, for scrutiny and consideration.
He said the NAWEC Board, is fully aware of its multiple accountability requirements, to both the Executive, Legislative and to their customers, and they have very realized their mandate to provide services and to contribute to the economic development of the country.
He said: “In response to these requirements, we have undertaken great strikes to bring right kind of competences to NAWEC, to improve our efficiency and effectiveness, to solve the dis-service provision to the people of the Gambia”.
He said they had promised the PEC that the backlog of the said reports were to be cleared before 2021,but unfortunately, COVID-19 struck and has derailed their preparation process, thus they had no alternative but to submit their 2020 Financial Statement, while the Activity Report was pending.
The Board said: “Today we have converged here to provide the activity report and we plan to ensure that activity reports for 2018 and 2019 are presented to the committee. We apologise for not being able to deliver as promised, but we are all aware of the challenges we face during the lockdown”.
On their part, the Management of NAWEC said: “we have a responsibility to the committee to present our reports annually (audited financial statement and annual reports). We submitted our audited financial statements for 2017 and the annual report was outstanding due to some technical issues that we had which were later resolved, and the report is now ready for submission”.
Management said: “The report for 2018 and 2019 are still outstanding. We intended to complete the reports before the end of 2020, but we faced series of challenges due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has compelled us to scale down the number of our staff (especially from the finance department) during the State of public Emergencies”.
Management averred that this had given them a lot of challenges in terms of meeting the deadline, to the External Auditors to submit some of the documentations that they required from the management, but added their report would be finalized and submitted to the committee.
Management said: “we might not be able to submit our 2019 audited account before end June. Is a serious challenge and we understood that the report should have been submitted last week but we are doing everything possible to complete the backlog, and have a fresh start with 2022 that would be on track without backlogs”.
The management told the committee that, for 2021, they would be submitting all the reports for 2018, 2019 and 2020. But for 2018, they would submit that by next week Friday to the committee.
Halifa Sallah, Chairperson of the Committee, told the management and Board that their restriction is that they would start session starting on the 22nd of March 2021, thus they need at least a period of three weeks to write their reports.
He said: “We cannot also prolong otherwise we will be inefficient. We listen very carefully to views expressed by the public enterprises, and we have gauged their performance against the provisions establishing their manner of operations”.
He said with respect to the audited accounts, section 39 of the public enterprise act states that, the accounts of the corporations shall be audited annually by the auditor general, and the audited accounts of the public enterprises should form part of the Auditor General’s overall annual reports to the National Assembly.
He said: “What we have seen is that corporations have been trying to tidy up their accounts and that is really not the objective. The objective is to give true and fair state of operation, so that the challenges could be identified and recommendations made to move them to greater viability”.
After due consultation among the committee members, the committee finally considered that the NAWEC Board and Management reappear before PEC, and submit their 2018 reports by 12th February 2021, and the report for the year ended 31st December 2019, no later than 29th March 2021.