Minister Gomez quizzed on over D1M Covid fund
Hon Musa Badjie, member for Tallinding Kunjang Constituency questioned Hon Pierre Gomez, Minister of Higher Education and Research Science about One Million One Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand Four Hundred and Twenty Dalasis which was received, as revealed by the 2022 Auditor’s report, by the Gambian Embassy in Algeria in respect of relief package on government’s Covid-19 response.
However, Hon Badjie said, the report indicated that there was no evidence of payments of Covid-19 relief packages to students in Algeria.
Further in his questioning he also asked of the one million three hundred and eighty thousand one hundred and eighty-six dalasis which was discovered as unused funds among Gambian embassies in Beijing, Addis Ababa, Madrid, and Abu Dahabi.
Answering these questions Minister Gomez said the payment of the Covid-19 funds was facilitated by a task force that was established by the Minister of Finance in which his ministry had a representative.
“The task force could not identify all the targeted students; therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was tasked to work with the embassies to identify these students in their jurisdictions. The students’ list was generated from the embassies and missions and the same list was used to pay, after which the director of internal audit went to these embassies and missions to verify the payments,” he explained.
“We are of the view that the respective embassies and missions should balance their books and refund any unpaid balance to the consolidated fund through the Ministry of Finance and Gambians abroad.”
He also said: “On 30th September 2020 over 1Millon was remitted to the Gambian embassy in Algeria with a payment advice, saying Gambia Government Covid-19 Fund to Gambia Students in Egypt. Later the embassy in Algeria reported with an email on the same date informing the accountant general’s department that the embassy did not cover Egypt and that the funds must have been sent in error and my ministry did not receive this information; therefore, we were in no position to clarify.”
Source: The Point