By: Foday Manneh
Insiders at the public broadcaster GRTS say the company is facing a fiscal crisis mainly due to lavish loans given to senior executives.
According to sources, the Director General of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), Malik Jeng, is allegedly highly indebted to the institution; they say the trend is among the main issues affecting the operations of the national broadcaster.
“This has been ongoing for a while. He takes loans and petty cash almost every month and never pays back, nor retires them,’’ a source close to GRTS told TAT.
“Aside from that, he is on a contract, and usually, contract staff is not eligible for certain loans, but the DG was given a car loan of D600,000. They only pay 50% of this, and I am not even sure if he is paying half of that,’’ the source added.
According to an insider, the DG acquired these loans due to the backing of other leadership within the institution, which is heavily strained by this culture.
“The taking of loans became a continuous trend, and to some extent, priority is not accorded to getting certain materials and equipment but for personal interest,’’ the insider said.
The GRTS leadership has also been alleged of mismanaging a D36 million fund approved by the National Assembly in 2021 for the Presidential election coverage of that year.
“I know of machinery that was bought but is not even compatible with the system for radio sub-stations, and that means the money was wasted. Besides those machines, nothing else has been accounted for regarding the usage of those millions,’’ the source said.
TAT spoke to another source within the institution who said malpractices in GRTS affect the finance department and human resources. The original called for urgent and proper auditing to reveal the realities marring the institution.
When contacted, DG Malick Jeng dismissed these allegations as “totally incorrect” but did not deny taking loans from the institution.
“Deduction is automatic for anyone who takes a loan from GRTS. You have to pay over to the accountant; as far as I know, finance has deducted me from my salary. So the information is incorrect,” he said.
On the alleged D36 million earmarked for the election coverage, DG Jeng said the approved fund was exhaustively used for the purpose it was meant for.
“It is impossible to know what happens at GRTS unless you work here. We accounted for every single butut of that D36 million. We bought the needed equipment, such as cameras, cables, transmitters, and a mobile studio. It was used to the last butut,” Jeng added.