The Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh has said corrupt officials at the ministry who wanted to divert coronavirus funds for personal allowances have been reprimanded. 

Dr Samateh made the announcement on Friday at the National Assembly following a letter from a whistleblower at the ministry who alleged that corrupt officials were diverting the funds meant to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country for personal allowances. 

“We know we have people among us, they will not change and they will not give up trying to steal. They will keep on trying. But will they succeed? So if people try, and their trial leaks, I don’t think that calls for alarm.

“What we did when I went to see the Minister of Finance, I said, ‘this thing, first we need to make an expeditious and judicious use of these funds, but because it’s emergency, procurement needs to be done first but under those circumstances people can abuse them.”

The minister told parliamentarians that a procurement committee was set up 

comprising of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, the Accountant General, the Director of Internal Audit and the Director General of GPPA “to scrutinise every procurement detail”, adding that “this is to ensure transparency and accountability.

“ And they report to us (Ministers of Health and Finance) and we see what they have decided on. Every request goes through them, the disbursements, all these funds go through them.”

On the contentious issue of personal allowances the Health Minister said he was working with his officials to root out corrupt officials trying to steal from the funds. 

“I told the officials that were responsible for preparing a list of those eligible for allowances that I did not want any allowance or honorarium.

“I told them I don’t want any butut. I am doing this sacrifice for my country irrespective of the challenge.

“Now few days down the line, they put forward a long list of many names. Now that list did not get to me for vetting, it went straight to the committee and this committee detected that it was bogus and I was alerted and we withdrew it. 

“And I told them to withdraw it and we reprimanded them for that. So this is what is happening and we are observing all the processes.”

A whistleblower last claimed in a letter shared on Facebook that:

“We are here at the ministry dealing with some of the most heartless civil servants in the country. Whiles people are worried senior officials at the ministry are worries about how much allowances they and their colleagues can get from the D500 Million  the government is allocating for the fight against Covid 19 SARS 2.

“I don’t even know where to begin with the drama going on at the Ministry of Health. It is dangerous to have such greedy/ senseless people heading an important unit like health care.”

The Ministry of Health is the government agency dealing with The Gambia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. President Barrow has allocated the ministry 500 million dalasi to handle the pandemic. Other agencies including the WHO and World Bank have provided grants in the millions of dollars to The Gambia to fight the pandemic. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please disable your adblocker and support our journalism. Thank you.