The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as unlawful a multi-million dalasis loan scheme by the nation’s MPs and called for its scrapping from the 2021 budget, Gambia Participates said in a statement.
“Gambia, today we have saved you D54.4 million. In December 2020, in a joint suit with CRPD we took the National Assembly of the Gambia to court for creating a loan scheme for themselves in the 2021 budget. Today the Supreme Court has declared the action unlawful and called for the removal of the said amount from the 2021 budget,” the statement read.
The nation’s MPs last December came under fire after they borrow themselves taxpayers’ money under the 2021 budget running into millions of dalasis. The proponents insisted the law allowed them to do so, with MP Ya Kumba Jaiteh as initiator.
Two leading CSO groups, Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development, then mounted a legal challenge on the decision.
The groups on December 28 filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court seeking the top court to declare that the amendment done by the National Assembly by including a budget line item of D54.4 million is “in contravention of sections 151,152 and 155 of the Constitution and a violation of section 47 of the Public Finance Act, 2014”.
The groups also wanted a declaration that the approval of the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year 2021 with the inclusion of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly service was a ‘usurpation’ of the powers given to the President in section 152 of the Constitution and a violation of clause 70 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly.
The groups had sued the cleark of the national assembly alongside the auditor general, ministry of finance and the attorney general.
The groups wanted an order directing the Auditor General not to grant approval for the withdrawal of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it by the National Assembly or the National Assembly Service.
They also wanted an order directing the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs not to pay from the Consolidated Fund or any Fund of the government the sum of D54.4 million or any money at all to the National Assembly members or staff of the National Assembly Service as loan pursuant to the approved estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for the year 2021.
Also, they wanted an order severing and striking down the part of the Appropriation Act authorizing the payment of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to the National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly Service.
Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development also wanted an injunction against the Clerk of the National Assembly and the National Assembly restraining them from raising warrants or preparing payment vouchers or any document that would facilitate the processing of the payment of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it to the staff of the National Assembly Service and the National Assembly members.