The National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum Hon Alhagie Mbowe has indicated that the anti-corruption bill 2020 is ‘almost ready for adoption before lawmakers. The parliamentarian was speaking to West Coast Radio’s “Coffee Time with Peter Gomez.” He said the bill has already been forwarded to the National Assembly Table’s Office for adoption, and once the plenary adopts the report, the next stage is to meet at the committee level to look at the bill clause by clause.
The parliamentarians are currently in a session of the 2021 legislative year sittings. The Anti-Corruption Bill, the Access to Information Bill, and the Disability Bill, amongst others, are expected to be tabled or passed before parliament.
“What we did as a committee, we look at the bill in detail. We were invited to various institutions like the central bank of the Gambia, the intelligent finance unit, and the fraud squad of the police department. We engaged them and made the bill better. The bill was very well-drafted, but we’ve made minor changes. They were only a few additions we have put in terms of the penalties, fines, and prison sentences, as far as the bill is concern,” he told Coffee Time.
Punishment for corruption reviewed.
“I think it depends on the gravity of the crime committed by somebody. So what we did is to help the judges with sentences guidelines. We put a range where a judge can look at the gravity of a crime and then rule base on the issue at hand. So what we put in place guidelines to ensure judges have many lead ways in terms of fines and other and prison sentences. Corruption comes in different gravity. We want to give the judges or magistrates perfect ranges where they can choose what they want to do base on the gravity of the crimes“.
The government of President Adama Barrow is ‘accused’ of showing no commitment to fighting corruption despite series of media reports and unearthed corrupt practices in government offices. However, President Barrow claimed that his government is committed to fighting and tackling corruption using what he calls an ‘E. System’ for transparency.
Civil Society Organizations such as “Gambia Participates” have long campaigned for the anti-corruption commission bill to be passed and become a law. The bill was presented before lawmakers in December 2019, a long period enough to make activists believe that there is a lack of political will on the side of the lawmakers for the smooth passage and adoption of the bill to become a law.
Gambia stood at 102 out of 180 in countries not doing enough to address corruption in the Corruption Performance Index (CPI) 2020.
“If the Barrow government wants to be successful in implementing the National Development Plan as well as a gain public trust, therefore, there is a need for it to prioritize combating corruption,” the Executive Director of Gambia Participates Marr Nyang told local papers.
Meanwhile, the NAM for Upper Saloum believes that if the government is serious about fighting corruption in the country, this bill could be a “game-changer.”