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Ombudsman Faults Record Keeping at Public Institutions, Gives Update on Assets Declaration

The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday presented its 2015/2017 activity report to the National Assembly highlighting key challenges, including record keeping at public institutions.

Ombudsman is a public office that investigates allegations of maladministration, mismanagement, corruption and discrimination, and deal with human rights and protection of fundamental freedoms of the citizenry.

“In the area of investigation, our main constraint is the delay in reply from some institutions despite the fact that a timeline is issued. Another constraint is the issue of missing personal files which is delaying our work. To this end, there is a need for institutions to train their personnel on the proper storage and retrieval of files,” the Ombudsman, Fatou Njie-Jallow told the lawmakers.

Under section 223 of the 1997 Constitution, public officers are required to submit to the Ombudsman a written declaration of all their properties and assets as well as their liabilities that they owed directly or indirectly on assuming office, at the end of every two years and or ceasing to hold public office.

In 2017, President Adama Barrow directed all his ministers to declare their assets to the Ombudsman. But the decision to not make such assets public for scrutiny has generated a lot of criticism.

The Ombudsman said she issued forms for assets declaration, adding that the feedback was impressive.

“So far a total of 180 assets declaration forms were issued and 124 were completed properly and returned. Another 41 forms have recently been distributed and the deadline is yet to come which is targeting mainly top officers from public institutions and parastatals, including permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, directors, deputy managing directors, executive directors and director generals, and directors from public institutions and parastatals,” she said.

She informed the MPs that her office makes efforts to trickle down the assets declaration processes to all senior officers in the public sector and parastatals.

“Assets declaration is not a threat to privacy. Instead it is a powerful tool to fight corruption which is a concern in most countries. It has benefits.”

 

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