Parliament’s Petition Committee Recommends GTBoard Reinstates Wrongfully Dismissed Staff

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National Assembly (NA)

Last week, the National Assembly’s Petition Committee presented its query report into alleged corruption and abuse of office at the GTBoard to the Parliament.

The Committee recommends, among other things, that the Ministry of Tourism immediately cease taking major decisions on the administration of the GT Board without channeling them through the Governing body.

The Committee’s inquiry into the GTBoard’s dealings was necessitated after the aggrieved staff of the institution filed a petition to the National Assembly containing some serious allegations about the Gambia Tourism Board, the institution created to manage the country’s tourism industry.

During its fact-finding oversight, the Committee summoned officials of the GTBoard and the Ministry of Tourism, including the immediate past Minister Hamat N.K Bah, who is now reassigned to the Ministry of Lands, and relevant witnesses for their testimonies.

The report contains the petitioners’ claims, testimonies received on the matter, and observations by the Committee after reviewing all testimonies and assessing the documents submitted by the various witnesses.

The first part of the 47-page report deals with the findings on the award of contract for the construction of eco-tourism camps across the country, agreement for the construction of the GT Board and the Ministry of Tourism office complex by the Construct Company, alleged unjustifiable funding of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture by GTBoard; alleged dubious practices in the allocation of land along the Tourism Development Area; and an alleged interference of the Minister of Tourism and Culture on waiving some percentages off on the development levy for some investors without following due process and procedure.

On the Eco-Lodges Contract, the Petition Committee’s report, presented by its Chairperson, Suwaibou Touray, recommends that the Chairman of the Contracts Committee be reprimanded for misguiding the Contract committee members by giving a wrong analysis of the financial performances, which eventually affected the scoring or evaluation process. The Committee said this was done to favor Lerr Group Company.

On staff employment matters, the Committee recommends that the Select Committee on Tourism, the Standing Committee on Public Appointments, and the Ombudsman monitor and ensure that all the senior staff deployed and wrongfully terminated/dismissed as a result of this petition be recalled to the head office and reinstated to their former posts with immediate effect.

On governance structure, the Committee recommends that the Minister of Tourism refrain from interfering or giving directives to the Governing body’s Chairman to act upon his instructions as this is not provided for in the Act.

It further recommends that GTBoard immediately stop supplying fuel to the Minister and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, every week and only make deliveries if they are on GT Board errands.

The Committee also observed a conflict of interest at the Board, saying it is unethical for a husband and a wife or a father and a son to participate in a Board meeting that concerns their interests.

The Committee’s report was adopted, and a motion was passed for the Petition Committee to develop firm resolutions based on the report and present them to the plenary for consideration and approval.

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