By Ndey Sowe & Awa Touray
The Banjul City Council (BCC), on Tuesday February 5th 2019, received a report of the Task Force on the BCC. A Task Force was constituted in June 2018 to investigate previous administrations of Council and make recommendations that is expected to usher in long term improvements and consolidate the positive gains of the present administration.
According to authorities, the Task Force reviewed documents including policies, financial statements, staff files, Council minutes and reports; that they also conducted assets verification and field exercises accompanying collectors on the job. But most importantly, they interviewed and held discussions with management and staff of Council in order to clarify findings.
The Task Force is also said to have focused on the operational and financial management of Council, and came up with recommendations that will address all financial challenges at the BCC.
“The task force made interim recommendations on six occasions to the city council on issues they felt required urgent attention,” BCC authorities said.
Abdoulie Jallow, the Chairperson of the BCC Task Force Committee, said they were provided with the management accounts from 1st January 2015 to 30th June 2018; that according to the accounts, BCC reported surpluses of D920,326 in 2015; D3,013,723 in 2016; D3,589,284 in 2017 and D5,966,656 up to end June 2018.
Jallow said the management of BCC was able to provide evidence of the surplus in bank statements given that Council was operating a cash based system, and were able to reconcile the submission; but that the whereabouts of over D4.3 million could not be explained.
“With close and critical monitoring of the financial management malpractices, the Task Force uncovered deep rooted weaknesses characterized by the unjustified daily disbursements of fuel allocations, irrespective of transport allowances paid monthly to senior managers,” he asserted.
Jallow further disclosed that the Task Force uncovered sitting allowances were paid to staff for internal committee meetings.
In addition Jallow said waste and abuse of resources at the BCC was institutionalized; that there was unjustified and dubious spending on spare parts totally D1.4 million, between January and May 2018, before the assumption of office of the current Major. He said this was at the time when council had most of its vehicles off the road. He added that the system put in place at the council for revenue collection is inefficient and provides loopholes for fraud.
“Within two months, between July and August 2018, D2 million was collected moving Council from an average of D615,196 to D989,220 monthly,” he asserted.
Jallow said Council has not been collecting rents from the craft market since 2012, resulting in revenue loss of about D3, 614,550 as at 31st march 2018; that the management of Council saw this as negligence in their duties, because they cannot provide any plausible explanation for non-collection of these owed funds.
“It was observed that within a period of 5 months, there was fuel consumption of D1,306,320.00 and spare parts cost for maintenance amounted to D1,472.375.00. This is of grave concern and should be addressed immediately,” he said.
Jallow further disclosed that there were payments made without documents amounting to D816, 600, and there was further purchase of spare parts amounting to D1,400,000 within five months.
“There was an internal audit query on the supply of three mobile phones amounting to D109, 000 for the interim Chairperson, CEO, and Director of Finance,” he said.
He opined that this is came at a time when Council was being managed through loans and overdraft from Banks. This he said, highlights the level of waste and recklessness in Council members handling of finances.
Other speakers at the presentation ceremony include the CEO of BCC Mustahpa Bathilly, and the Major of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe.