A Belgian company at the centre of corruption investigation by authorities in Belgium and Gambia has started making the small nation’s ID Cards on October 1.
The National Assembly member for Serrekunda East, Madi Ceesay, said the awarding of contract for the making of national identification cards to Semlex affects the integrity of the Gambia as a country.
Ceesay said the Belgian company is currently battling several allegations including money laundering and dealing with them before they are exonerated is a stain on the country’s reputation.
Currently, Semlex is being investigated by Belgian authorities and National Assembly Committee on National Security.
The position of the Gambian authorities has always been that the company hold a valid contract with the country and terminating their contract on mere suspicion could cost the small nation.
Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said Gambia can be liable to pay the company a huge sum if their contract is terminated without substantial reason.
“For me my position is that the contract with Semlex should be put on hold since they are being investigated by the National Assembly and authorities in Belgium,” Ceesay told Kerr Fatou on Tuesday.
“We know everyone has the right to be assumed innocent until proven otherwise but what is at stake here is our integrity as a nation… Do we run away from the cost of a lawsuit that can come with termination of a contract and risk staining our integrity as a country? What of if the allegations against Semlex turns out to be true…”
“How are we assured that our data is secured with Semlex? This company is being accused of selling passport in other countries. And if that is true people can buy our national ID and impassionate anyone from outside the country, even our president or National Assembly members. Semlex is being investigated and until they are exonerated, I do not think any government should work with them,” added Ceesay.
Meanwhile, a Saikouba Jarjue, a National Assembly member sitting on the committee investigating Semlex, told Kerr Fatou that they have now requested all documents they would need from authorities and are now at the phase of inviting authorities.
The committee on which sits Halifa Sallah has already held two meetings on the issue.
Meanwhile, according to the Semlex contract, Gambia gets 40% and the company gets 60% of profits.
Semlex is also not required to pay any tax or custom duty for the entire duration of the contract.
The contract also states that the staff working for the company are to be paid by the Gambian Government as per Article 6.