The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abdul Serry Kamal has said that “we are not conducting a criminal trial but only finding facts from witnesses”.
Speaking at the Miattia Conference Hall during the official opening of the Commission of Enquiry, he added that, the commission was set up by government to look into performance of contracts and misappropriation of donor funds.
He appealed to witnesses to come and testify and give truthfully evidence before the Commission, adding that they need the cooperation of everybody.
Chairman of the Commission and also Supreme Court Judge, Justice Gibril Janneh said that the procedures are not those in a court of law where people would be tried, but to bring people and ask them questions.
Led in evidence by Serry Kamal, the first witness the Chief Executive Officer of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) Dr Alfred Albert Kandeh said that his authority was established by the Public Procurement Act of 2004 by Parliament.
He added the Public Procurement was governed by statutory on the 7th December 2004 when the act came into existence.
When this happens Parliament in its wisdom, described in that statue certain requirements which must be met before entities of government could be procured, said the witness.
He said that the Act provides that all entities set up a procurement committee and that no more should institutions procure by one man giving out contract, adding that the committee shall be the paramount decision making body for the award of contracts.
The witness said that ,” the law also required the setting up of a procurement unit which shall have officers knowledgeable in procurement and certified by the authority to conduct the day-to day activities of procurement”.
The law he said also required an evaluation committee which shall be set up as and when there is a procurement exercise to conduct and it would review procurement activities and report to the procurement committee.
Kandeh pointed out that the procurement committee would deliberate upon that report and make decision to award a contract or reject it; once that happen if the decision is taken to award a contract then it would be relayed to the Head of the entity as well as the Ministry of Finance and the general public telling us all that this is the clear winner in the procurement contest.
The law establishes a regulatory body called NPPA; and this body should not participate in the evaluation or award of contracts to any entity but it could evaluate and monitor the activities of those entities.
Kandeh noted that “the law also says that the Head of entity must sign every procurement contract unless delegated to the Head of procurement unit”.
On the role of the Internal Auditor, he said that Internal Auditors are part of management and they are the first line of defense – they ensure that rules and regulations are observed and they are directly responsible to the chief executive and therefore need to report on a regularly basis.
“It is the role of Internal Auditors to ensure that contracts are been performed in accordance with the agreement and that is reported to the board or Chief Executive Officer” he said.
When asked if government entities are following these regulations, he replied they have been followed and there are degrees of compliance- “that is the challenge we are facing” he said.
At the end of the testimony the Chairperson said that this is what the Commission is all about; to ensure that procedures are observed and properly monitored.
The Chairman announced that they would be starting with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, to be followed by NaCSA.
The hearing was adjourned to 28th October. By Abibatu Kamara