People are seen moving across the street in Banjul, Gambia January 17, 2017 REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Gambia’s public enterprises are bankrupt, new govt says

Financial mismanagement and theft have left Gambian public institutions bankrupt, a finding by the new government says.

Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh has been accused of most of the stealing of more than US$200 million between 2015 and December 2016.

The country’s main energy company NAWEC is left indebted and owed D10 billion by state agencies.

Jammeh has been taking millions in cash from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, Gambia Ports Authority and the Gambia Telecommunications Company.

At least D2.09 billion was taken from the social security administration alone, says Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh.

“The expenditures includes D74.517 million for NAWEC generators; D547.588 Million for loan repayments on behalf of NAWEC for ITFC and D74.662 million for interest charges for NAWEC. Another NAWEC generator acquisition amounting to D118.00 million was also made and some payments were received on this loan,” he said.

“The cost of John Deere tractors ($2.018 million) amounting to D57.092 million; and cash withdrawals of US$500, 000 twice were made from the SSHFC through Executive Directives of Yahya Jammeh for expenditures unaccounted for an undocumented.”

Monies were taken from public enterprises to finance Jammeh’s ruling APRC political functions. Public enterprises used so-called social responsibility accounts to hire tents, print campaign t-shirts and materials, pay for a July 22 pageants, farmers working on Jammeh’s farm and paying for tables during gala dinners.

Findings also found that vehicles that were to be purchased at D3M were purchased for D7M by the ports authority.

Minister Sanneh calls Jammeh’s behavior a “total betrayal of the Gambian people” for stealing and leaving citizens with a monstrous debt amounting to D48.3 billion.

U.S. civil rights leader Jessie Jackson is urging the international community to forgive the Gambia’s debt.

The EU quickly responded by giving the Gambia €75 million in aid when the UN called for international support to help kick the country’s economy to life.

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