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Asset Commissioner outlines challenges

June 16, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

Chairman and senior officials of the National Asset and Government Property Commission last Friday narrated to Members of Parliament the challenges they are facing since they took up office.

Chairman Alhaji Unisa Alim ‘Awoko’ Sesay said the commission is one of the oldest in the country as it was established by Act No. 2 of 1990, and that their role is very simple, although challenging.

He said they are yet to achieve any of their goals since he took office as commissioner because the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure and other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) change their assets without consulting the commission, contrary to what is stated in the Act.

He said several meetings have been held with the Ministry of Finance on the issue of MDAs changing carpets, chairs etc., without proper documentation, which is one of the challenges and impediments to their work as an institution.

“The problem in this country is that people do not respect the rule of law, thinking that when they are in privileged position they do what they feel like doing,” charged Mr. Sesay. “When I took up office I invited the Anti-Corruption Commission to help us to provide best practices to minimize corruption in most of these MDAs in relation to the use of government quarters and assets.”

He said the commission lacks punitive powers to impose on defaulters, thus the reason Parliament in its wisdom created penalties in section 48(c) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008, but they still face challenges in addressing such issues.

Citing section 7(2f) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, Sesay said the commission has powers to examine practices and procedures of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices or acts of corruption, and to secure revision of those practices and procedures which, in the opinion of the commission, may lead to corruption or corrupt practices.

“We are all aware of the reckless manner in which public property is handled by some public officers and even the general public, and the huge sums of money spent by government to purchase them,” he observed.

He revealed that some 10 houses that were confiscated during the military junta era in 1992 that should be under their supervision are still in private hands. Some quarters, he added, are being occupied and officials from the Works Ministry collect rent for them without the knowledge of the commission, which should supervise the allocation.

However, Deputy Secretary in the Works Ministry, Ibrahim S. Kamara, said all the allegations levied against them by Commissioner Sesay were baseless and untrue.

He said illegal tenants in government quarters would have long been evicted but for the pleading of Mr. Sesay himself on their behalf.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Works Committee, Hon. Kombo Kamara, said the issue between the commission and the ministry was getting ugly and very serious amid allegations and counter-allegations.

He promised that they would look into them as a thorough investigation was needed to get into the heart of the matter.

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