HALIFA SALLAH FOR THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
GOVERNING BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE OUTSIDE THE AMBIT OF THE LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND CONSTITUTE THE LEGITIMISATION OF IMPUNITY
In many parts of the world where the sovereign people are aware of their rights and powers, the policies of government and the laws parliaments enact are examined periodically to determine whether they are serving or negating the public interest. If they fail to serve the public interest, Presidents and Ministers who formulated the policies and members of parliament who voted for the bills to become laws are held accountable by the public and are deprived of votes in subsequent elections.
This is why it is immensely important for the public to keep tract of government decisions. In this vein, PDOIS has decided to look into the subject of executive directives which are constantly being relied on to manage the affairs of many institutions at both the National and Regional levels.
Executive Directive on Council Revenue
It has been brought to the notice of the Central Committee of PDOIS that an executive directive has been issued giving authority to the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to assume responsibility for the collection of all revenues on behalf of the Councils with effect from 1 March 2015.
This Executive Directive is not only unconstitutional and unlawful but has not taken into consideration the human capacity available at the GRA to carry out such a task.
The Constitution and the Law
The Constitution envisages councils with autonomous financial institutions.
Section 192 (1) of the constitution states: “Local government administration in The Gambia shall be based on a system of democratically elected councils with a high degree of local autonomy”.
The behest of the Constitution is amplified by the provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 which has given mandatory powers on how councils should manage financial matters.
Consequently, Section 127 of the Local Government Act states:
“Subject to this Act or any other enactment, every Council shall have autonomy over its financial matters.
Section 128 adds: (1) The revenue and funds of a Council include all sums of money or funds accruing to a Council.
(2) The revenue and funds of a Council shall be applied to the administration, development and welfare of the inhabitants within its Area of jurisdiction.
(3) The Central Government shall provide twenty-five per cent of the Council’s development budget.
Section 129:“Every Council shall be answerable and accountable to –
(a) Its electorate for all moneys which accrue to the Council from the electorate; and
(b) The National Assembly for all moneys appropriated to the Council from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, or otherwise.
Section 130. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the financial affairs of a Council shall be regulated in accordance with a Local Government (Finance and Audit) law to be enacted by the National Assembly.
Section 131. (1) A Council shall have power to levy rates and such taxes as the National Assembly shall prescribe, to meet all liabilities, whether of a general or special nature. “
On the Finance and Audit Act
The Local Government Finance and Audit Act indicates how the funds, budget and accounts of councils are to be managed.
Section 3 of the act states:
“a council shall keep a Council Development Fund into which all revenue generated by the Council shall be paid and from which all; liabilities falling to be discharged by the council shall be discharged.
Section 12 of the Act adds “ Subject to the provisions of this Act and any other Act , each Council has autonomy over its financial matters , excluding salaries , allowances and other emoluments.“
It is therefore abundantly clear that the executive order is at variance with the Constitution and the Local Government Act and ought to be revoked.
The tendency of many Gambians is to condone impunity by simply retorting: What can we do about it? Some would even claim that the writing is useless because the executive would not listen. The fundamental difference between a Monarchy and a Republic is the authority resident in each citizen in a Republic to be able to remove from office, any power which refuses to be guided or restrained by the just demands of the people.
The executive has sworn to Govern in accordance with the Constitution and other laws of the country. To fail to do so is to deserve impeachment.
This is why the electorate should be mindful of the type of people they elect to become National Assembly members. The first line of defence against the impunity of executive power in a Republic is an Independent National Assembly with representatives who would ensure that executive power is exercised within the guards and fences provided by the Constitution and other laws failing which they face impeachment proceedings.
Will the National Assembly members look into the executive order given to the councils? The people are watching to see whether they would carry out their oversight functions.
PDOIS has made it clear that if it is given a mandate it would create Village, District and Regional Councils which would produce sovereign wealth at each level to promote development. Village farms, Aquaculture and Cottage Industries would enable them to earn income for the development of villages.
Governors would be replaced by Regional Permanent Secretaries who would exercise direction and control over the operation of government departments in the Regions. All councillors would be elected. All powers given to dissolve councils and appoint administrators would be revoked. Councils would be under the rule of law which would make them transparent and accountable to the public instead of being subjected to the rule of the might of the executive.
A jury system would replace the District tribunals to free the justice system in the rural areas from executive or political influence and patriarchy.
Development shall be centred on the sovereign people and shall be designed to ensure their liberty and prosperity. This shall be the core values of the Third Republic.