Thursday, January 17, 2013

Police ask to probe National Youth Council’s ‘financial misappropriation’

NYC Executive Secretary Marcel Mendy (R) speaking to local journalist and blogger Mamadou Edrisa Njie in Bansang, CRR  (Photo Credit: Gambia Sports Online)
The National Assembly in Banjul, the Gambian capital, has called on the police to investigate an alleged misappropriation of D163, 000 at the National Youth Council, NYC.

A former finance assistant of the NYC Mr Sulayman Njie, is accused of being behind the alleged financial embezzlement.

But an External Auditor, Pa Majagne Ndow, has revealed to the national assembly the discovery of a huge misappropriation of up to D238, 000 at the NYC.

“The financial statement for the year 2010 revealed that there was an amount indicated as loss of funds amounting to D163, 000 while in the ledger it was indicated as refund to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund,” Mr Ndow said. “An additional amount of D75, 000 supposedly paid to UNICEF was also discovered - bringing the total funds misappropriated to D238, 000.”  

In January, the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises (PAC/PEC) committees of the National Assembly resumed their session that scrutinizes the activities and financial performances of public enterprises.

When the NYC appeared at the session on Jan. 14, 2013, the current executive secretary of the NYC Marcel Mendy told the committees that the allegations of embezzlement have since been forwarded to the police to investigate but they are yet to come up with their findings.

This compelled the two committees on Monday to order the police to look into the alleged crime. 

Sulayman Njie has since admitted he embezzled the money in a Nov. 24, 2010 letter to the Executive Secretary after he was confronted by the management of NYC, Mr Mendy revealed. Mr Mendy said Mr Njie was subsequently suspended by management six days later pending investigations. 

“Since the Finance Assistant accepted guilt and responsibility, he should be urged to provide payment plan acceptable to NYC. In the event he did not comply with terms and conditions for the refund, then he should be reported to the police for necessary action,” Mendy quoted a letter from the Ministry of Youths and Sport addressed to the NYC Executive Secretary. 

“We have given evidence to the police, but still the police cannot come up with their findings on the issue,” Marcel Mendy told PAC/PEC committees while presenting the annual activity reports and audited financial statements of the NYC for the years ended 31 Dec. 2010 and 31 Dec. 2011.

The National Assembly committees also raised concerns about a D25, 000 loans given to Pa Malick Ceesay, a former executive secretary of the NYC and D8, 000 loans given to ex-permanent secretary Mambanick Njie.

These two loans must be recovered immediately by the NYC, they demanded. 

Non-compliant 

Mr. Samba JB Tambura, an assistant compliance officer at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) said the NYC has been non-compliant with its 12-related variables. He said NYC did not establish a contrast committee which is a violation of Section 48(1) of the GPPA Act. 

“NYC did not establish a specialised procurement unit, never submitted an annual procurement plan, completion and submission of monthly reports, filling of requisite GPPA forms, observation of GPPA thresholds, use of proper procurement methods, solicitation documentation, awarding contracts to deserving and registered suppliers, minutes of procurement proceedings, establishment of a proper filing system, and codification of all procurement among others,” he said.

I took office in 2011 and we are striving hard, but it is difficult if the NYC Act is not amended. We wrote to the Ministry of Youth and Sport for the NYC Act to be amended but still all efforts are futile, argues Mr. Fabakary Kalleh, the current chairperson of the NYC.

He claims the NYC is in touch with all debtors to recover all loans. He also urges the national assembly to help them in advocating for the amendment of the NYC Act.

Total disappointment

But the Majority leader was quick to refer him to the Select Committee on Youth Matters at the Assembly, which he said, the NYC failed to utilize otherwise their constraints would have been addressed.

Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, who is also a member for Serrekunda East district said both the NYC and the suspects should explain to the police who is responsible for the alleged embezzlement of monies at the NYC.

“We cannot make conclusion at this stage, we need additional information and clarification from the NYC. But we are not actually happy with the way thing are handled at NYC. That is why the government cannot give more money to NYC,” says Hon. Jatta, who chaired the session.

“As future leaders we expect you to be an excellence institution as is very important to us we have a youthful population,” deputy speaker Hon. Fatou Mbye said.

Hon. Sainey Mbye, member for Upper Soloumn district said the way the NYC is been run is a “total disappointment.” “We are seeing the embezzlement of funds and the misrepresentation of payment vouchers which is so unfortunate,” he said.

The NYC need to work an extra-mile to win the trust and confidence of all stakeholders in implementing their programmes, suggests Hon. Lamin Jadama, Member for Niamina West district. 

We are bound to scrutinize public institution to perform in the best interest of the country. I am disappointed that the bedrock of the youths in this country, the NYC’s performance is very weak, Hon. Absana Jallow, member for Nianija said.

But Hon. Muhammed Magassy, a member for Basse district sees things differently. He said intellectual young people should have plans to raise funds for themselves and not depending entirely on government funding.

Because of the gravity of this situation, the national assembly decided to not to adopt but instead defer NYC’s annual activity reports and audited financial statements for the years 2010 and 2011 respectively until further notice.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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