Friday, September 29, 2023

National Assembly FPAC recommends NDMA director account for remaining Covid-19 food distribution stock balance within 10 days

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The audit report of the Public Finance and Accounts Committee of the National Assembly of The Gambia has recommended that Mr. Sanna Dahaba, the Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), account for a ten-day stock balance made during the COVID-19 food distribution campaign.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries faced major setbacks. As a result, donor agencies in The Gambia provided relief packages to support vulnerable groups in the country. In collaboration with the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the Government of The Gambia financed the cost of food commodities for COVID-19 emergency food support to vulnerable Gambian citizens.

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The NDMA, being the national disaster institute, was responsible for the transportation and distribution of food items from the Assembly Centre (AC) to the vulnerable Gambian citizens through the identified Distribution Points (DPs).

As of 31st October 2020, the Accountant General’s department had paid a total of GMD27 million in relation to the transportation and distribution process in the West Coast Region and all households in the North Bank Region, Lower River Region, Central River Region and Upper River Region.

During their findings, the FPAC discovered that the Regional Disaster Coordinator of the West Coast Region reported that the stock balance of 389 bags of sugar was kept in the NDMA store, out of which 323 bags were claimed to have been collected by the Executive Director of NDMA, leaving a balance of 66 bags that were distributed to flood victims.

The report also highlights that there were excessive delays in the distribution of food items in LRR and WCR, leading to some of the food items being contaminated. The agency reported a total of 569 bags of rice and 66 bags of sugar confiscated by the Food Safety and Quality Control Authority (FSQA) alleging that they were not fit for human consumption. The agency equally failed to provide certificates of the confiscated items to auditors for review.

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Based on the evidence obtained by the auditors and lapses identified, sufficient information and documentation were not received from NDMA to substantiate the transportation and distribution of food relief to vulnerable households. The committee recommends that the Executive Director of NDMA, Sanna Dahaba, must account for all the remaining stock balances within 10 days.

In conclusion, the committee discovered that the storage and distribution process did not fully comply with the laws and regulations that govern them. The distribution process was not carried out fully in compliance with the Stores Regulations and Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations 2020, and the President’s.

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