Barrow calls for financial discipline in govt

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has vowed to put a check on financial spending in his office just two months after activists demanded an explanation into spendings on his temporal 5-star hotel office.

Barrow has inherited a nearly insolvent nation from the former president, Yahya Jammeh, who has been accused of mismanagement, corruption and diverting of government funds into his personal bank accounts.

Barrow is now vowing to ensure financial discipline as part of his government’s reform agenda in all government agencies, departments, ministries and even the State House.

The European Union came to The Gambia’s aid after Jammeh’s ouster in January. It immediately released $33 million in aid withheld over human rights concerns to help jumpstart the economy.

Gambia’s former President Jammeh and his close associates are accused of siphoning nearly US$2 billion during the autocratic ruler’s decades-long rule, mostly through dubious schemes and from the country’s broken treasury.

Jammeh’s office has never been audited since he came to power in 1994. It is estimated that nearly US$7.5 million has been spent by his office every month, mostly on travels and shopping for his family.

Gambia’s new government is conducting an audit of government departments and agencies, where corruption has been prevalent. Many civil servants, whose annual salaries were less than US$5,000 a year but were close to Jammeh have been seen living ostentatious lifestyles.

Officials who fall out of favor with Jammeh were easily accused of corruption, and prosecuted and jailed for economic crimes.

Since Barrow came to power, corruption charges against at least 30 officials have been dropped and some of them reinstated. The government says the charges were politically motivated and accuse Jammeh of being the main culprit.

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