In her official Facebook page, Gambia’s first elected mayoress recounts her shortcomings and successes in her first hundred days in office
As part of activities marking her first hundred days in office, the first elected mayoress of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe, said she had inherited a heavily indebted Council whose resources had been severely mismanaged.
Lowe recounts how resources of the City were used to pay non or former employees of the council and also unexplained expenditure without supporting documents worth over 1.6 million dalasis in 2017 alone.
She said she has inherited a debt of eight million dalasis owed to several banks and suppliers with interests and overdraft charges accruing; unexplained expenditures without supporting documents worth over D1.6 million in 2017 alone; lack of payment to employees’ retirement benefits and pensions liabilities in the amount of D3million, among others.
Lowe is a member of Gambia’s biggest political grouping, United Democratic Party— the first from the party to win a seat in Banjul.
Lowe said among the irregularities they have found were payment of salaries to about 150 non- or former employees, unjustified daily and monthly allowance of fuel paid to senior managers and non-payment of operational license by a number of stores doing business in our City.
The Mayoress said for the past years, the Council has been relying on generators rather than on the NAWEC electrical grid due to non-payments.
Lowe described the “discovery” of the irregularities as “shocking”, adding that it gave her the “courage necessary to conduct the City’s business differently, for a more transparent, fiscal and administrative path”.
In correcting the wrongs, they have started implementing a transparent record keeping system that is efficiently recording the functioning of the City Council.
She said they have also inherited debts from several banks and negotiated a path forward.
“We are currently doing the City’s business using only one bank, which limits waste and unnecessary fees,” she said.
“We have stopped all payrolls to non-active employees and stopped allowance payment to Directors for sitting in a general Council meeting. The Council has reconnected with NAWEC for its electrical supplies, ending costly generator use. We are now using a coupon system instead of cash purchasing of fuel for Council vehicles to eliminate waste and fraud. As a result, our fuel budget has gone down drastically.”
“A new policy has been put in place to ensure that loans eventually and exceptionally given to staff members are kept up-to-date and monitored for the application of due interest, and to ensure repayment. Lastly, we are taking serious measures to ensure that anyone who is doing business in our city is expected to pay for their license and rent to the City. Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine or the closure of the business,” she added.