PAC Urges Gamtel to Prioritize Debt Recovery

PAC Urges Gamtel to Prioritize Debt Recovery
PAC Urges Gamtel to Prioritize Debt Recovery

Africa-Press – Gambia. The National Assembly’s Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) has directed Gamtel to focus on recovering outstanding debts owed by public institutions. This directive was issued on Thursday as part of the committee’s consolidated report on Gamtel’s service delivery and the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) budget management, which was presented by the National Audit Office before the plenary.

Presenting the report, Committee Chairman Lamin J. Sanneh emphasized the need for Gamtel to collaborate with its line Ministry, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, and the SOE Commission to prioritize debt recovery from public institutions.

“Gamtel must ensure the implementation of an automated fault management system to enhance coordination between the customer service unit and fault restoration department by December 2024.

“Gamtel must promptly establish its administrative framework by December and must prioritize establishing monitoring schedules for regional managers to ensure efficient service delivery,” he said.

The committee’s chairman reported that the Auditor’s review of arrears owed to Gamtel by MDAs and SOEs, along with discussions with Gamtel management, revealed that as of February 2023, Gamtel had receivables totaling one hundred and fifty-two million dalasis accumulated from 2015 to 2020 from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

He added that there were also outstanding amounts of forty-five million dalasis from SOEs, bringing the total to one hundred and ninety-seven million dalasis for telecommunication services provided by Gamtel, which include both voice and internet services.

“Similarly, it was observed that various private individuals and businesses also owe significant amounts to Gamtel However, the audit team was unable to determine the total amount owed by these private and business customers due to Gamtel’s lack of data on this crucial aspect of the business,” he added.

Hon. Sanneh pointed out that the company lacks a credit threshold, allowing customers, especially public institutions, to continue using Gamtel’s services without making payments. He further noted that, at the time of the audit, Gamtel had no statutory debt recovery strategy in place to ensure the efficient and effective collection of debts.

“The Auditors observed significant dilapidation and management deficiencies in GAMTEL’s sites across the country. The Auditors encountered leaking roofs in areas where expensive telecommunication devices are housed, as well as inadequate ventilation for such equipment,” he also said.

He noted that numerous rooms housing crucial and sensitive equipment suffered from excessive humidity due to malfunctioning air conditioning systems. Furthermore, he highlighted serious security concerns at these sites, citing faulty gates, doors, and broken windows that made them susceptible to unauthorized access by animals and humans alike.

“Additionally, the security of the sites was compromised, as some visited sites had faulty gates, doors, and broken windows, leaving them vulnerable to intrusion by both animals and humans. Despite housing critical equipment essential for Gamtel’s operation, these sites appeared neglected and lacked proper maintenance. Many of these facilities were constructed in the 1980s and had not undergone regular adjustments or upkeep,” he stated.

Hon. Sanneh highlighted that, according to the Audit findings, GAMTEL has failed to meet the growing demand for fiber network services across different regions. Additionally, GAMTEL lacks a standardized fault restoration system, which hinders its ability to promptly and effectively address customer-reported issues. He emphasized the deficiency of GAMTEL’s administrative framework needed to ensure efficient and effective operations.

“The company is under significant financial strain, and regional managers lack written monitoring schedules, leading to some areas being unmonitored for years,” he said.

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