Lawmakers to open inquiry into the Semlex contract

//Lawmakers to open inquiry into the Semlex contract

Semlex, a Belgian company which has been contracted to make the national documents of the country, has been battling corruption allegations in many countries including Belgium.

Lawmakers have given the interior minister two weeks to supply them with contract documents between Gambia Government and Semlex as they prepare to launch an inquiry into the Belgian company.

Semlex, a Belgian company which has been contracted to make the national documents of the country, has been battling corruption allegations in many countries including Belgium.

Regardless, the Gambian authorities who claimed the company had a valid contract with them, went ahead and contract them for the making of the country’s national documents (ID cards and passport).

“Semlex is in a problem and this has been reported in all papers abroad… This has been relayed to your government. Why do they still want to give the contract to Semlex,” Momodou Ceesay, the National Assembly member for Janjanbureh, asked the Interior Minister Ebrima Mballow.

Minister Mballow, who appeared before lawmakers to update them on the happenings at his ministry on Monday, said Semlex has a valid contract with the Gambia that cannot be ignored.

Mballow said they are aware of corruption allegations against Semlex but they have not heard any complaints from countries where the company is operating.

“The contract with Semlex has been renegotiated and amended… It is now before the ministry of justice for final review and conclusion…,” Mballow said.

Last year, the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou has told journalists that terminating the Semlex contract could have serious legal implications for which Gambia may pay dearly.

And at the same time, another Gambian-own company Prestine also claimed to have had a valid contract, claims denied by the Justice Ministry.

“I think it is fundamentally necessary that the National Assembly opens an inquiry into Semlex before they are given a contract,” Seedia Jatta, National Assembly member for Wuli West, said.

“We will need the original contract documents with Semlex and the renegotiated ones…,” Samba Jallow demanded.

The contract documents, which Mballow said are at the commission of inquiry, are expected to be handed over to the Defense and Security Committee of the lawmaking body in 2 weeks.

The committee is expected to start an inquiry thereafter. However, the Semlex contract with the Government is already before the Justice Minister, according to Mballow, for review.

It is not clear if the lawmakers will order for the Justice Ministry to hold onto the contract pending their inquiry but pressure is building on authorities to get ID cards ready for the people.

Gambians are complaining for lack of availability of ID cards to citizens since last year.

Meanwhile, the Interior Minister was also grilled on several other issues including murders and robberies that has recently made headlines in the country and what security is doing about it.

Mballow said robberies have significantly reduced after they have constituted a unit to deal with it.

 

2018-06-25T18:24:45+00:00

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