By: Mafugi Ceesay

The Gambia’s minister of health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh described a National Audit Report that tied major financial losses of more than half a billion to unapproved spending as “deeply shocking” while disagreeing with the findings.

Responding to the national audit on the World Bank grant minister Samateh said the procurement of the medical equipment and consumables was totally carried out by the PCU with the world bank task team leader’s support, saying the initiative was done from World Bank funds ($3,946,637.10), using the world bank process.

Dr. Samateh added that the D100 million transfer from the covid 19 funds to PCU is his ministry’s contribution to the construction of the treatment center at Farato since the world bank ended up carrying out the entire procurement of the equipment amounting to $3,946,637.10.

Samateh went on to say that the audit team will reckon that the overall payment of $3,946,637.10 was done directly from the world bank grant and the fund is still in the PCU account to be used for the construction of the emergency treatment center at Farato.

The decision, according to Minister Samateh was based on the World Bank’s health task team leader.

Samateh further argued that the National Audit team did not consult the world bank before producing the report, which he described as unfair “as his ministry has no evidence, reason or indication to back the audit statement that identification and selection of suppliers awarded the contact could be an individuals discretion to gain the benefit at the expense of the government.”

On the Audit reports charge over the Ministry’s failure to obtain GPPA approval on single sourcing and nonassessment of alternative sources of transportation, Minister Samateh said based on several reasons the ministry of health raised the payment voucher with documentation containing bank transfer details of Liza Transport company to initiate the transaction through a bank transfer.

Samateh said his ministry was not privy to any prior information nor was it consulted when the payment method was eventually changed as reported in the audit.

Failure to obtain GPPA approval on single sourcing

Dr. Samateh pointed out that the amount of euro 39,933.39 equivalent to (2,217,987.87) paid was Gambia’s contribution to the cost of hiring the chartered flight that brought COVID Organics from Madagascar to ECOWAS countries.

He said this was coordinated by the Bissau Guinean government and his ministry’s role was to receive the donation and contribute to the charter cost of the aircraft where GPPA approval on single sourcing does not apply.

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