The declaration made by President Adama Barrow, for his Cabinet members to declare their assets, is a welcome development. The deadline for the asset declaration is said to be July 15th 2017. We hope any information that would be provided by the Ministers in regards to their acquired assets represent the truth, and nothing but the truth. Any attempt to under report or conceal one’s assets should not be condoned. There should be perjury punishment meted out to those bent on misleading the government and members of the public with any form of an undisclosed assets; if discovered at any given time.
The asset declaration records of the Cabinet members, including the President, should be made accessible to the public. That way, folks can scrutinize some of the information contained in their forms in the interest of accountability, transparency, and probity.
It should also be let known to the public, for example, if Minister A, or Minister B, happens to buy a car, or house for his wife, kids, and distant family members within the course of his or her employment with the new Gambian government. Using loved ones or friends as proxies (front) to evade the asset declaration form amounts to betrayal of one’s oath of office and allegiance to the country.
That said, the government should not stop at tracking local assets belonging to cabinet members, it should also expand its probe into assets and bank accounts outside the frontiers of this country. It is crucially imperative for the Barrow government to engage the services of reputable investigative firms to run a thorough background check on some of the cabinet members to see if they made any investment outside the Gambian since their employment with the Gambia government.
The asset declaration forms should not be left to gather dust. The government should put in place a monitoring mechanism to look into the lifestyles of the appointed public officials. If their lifestyles doesn’t commensurate with their monthly salaries, then that’s a probable cause to commence an investigation into the financial activities of the officials concerned.
The new government should also consider looking into the overstated (exaggerated) travel expenses of certain officials of the government. The Ministry of Finance of recent, is paying a lot of money in respect of per diem allowances. Some of the payments appeared to be fraudulent—given the lack of approval of their so called extension of trips from the bosses of the officer(s) concerned. There is an abuse going on in regards to per diem allowances. Some will even falsify travel dates and expenses just to scam the system.
Finally, president Barrow should be commended for spearheading such an important move to further reinforce public confidence in the situation of governance in this country. Corruption should be fought by all and sundry in this new Gambia. It is an enemy of national development.
Public officials should start setting the ball rolling for others to follow. The meager state resources inherited from the Jammeh government should be judiciously managed. This means cutting down on reckless spending, waste of resources, and flamboyant lifestyle.
The days of public officials driving flashy car; dressing in expensive suits; endless travelling; and stealing from public coffers at the expense of poor taxpayer should be a thing of the past. We rest our case!