Unfair Recommendation on NAWEC Staff

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Unfair Recommendation on NAWEC Staff
Unfair Recommendation on NAWEC Staff

By Madi Jobarteh

Africa-Press – Gambia. In February 2023, it was reported in the media that the Government signed performance contracts with three state-owned enterprises (SOEs), namely GPA, GNPC and SSHFC. Then in December 2023, it was again reported that the Government signed another performance contract with four more SOEs, namely GPPC, GIA, GamPost, and the National Food Safety and Processing, Marketing Cooperation (formerly called GGC). Interestingly, there has been no news that NAWEC signed a performance contract with the Government yet.

In April 2023, the National Assembly passed the SOE Bill into law. In September 2023, the President inaugurated the SOE Commission comprising 6 commissioners, namely Baboucarr Sompo Ceesay, Adama Deen, Cecilia Baldeh, Amie Njie, Sagarr Twum, and chaired by Ousainou Ngum.

On Wednesday 19 June 2024, the SOE Commission submitted its first report on NAWEC to the President. According to the Commission, “NAWEC only achieved 30% and 20% of the targets set for its Key Performance Indicators in 2021 and 2022, respectively.” For that matter, the Commission has recommended that all NAWEC staff be deducted 5% of their salary for not meeting the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) targets set for 2021 and 2022.

I find this recommendation to be unfair to most of the staff of NAWEC who should not be held responsible for the underperformance of the institution. A flat deduction across the board affects low salary earners who are usually the hardworking people in the field. They do not have any leadership, policy, strategic or management role to make decisions, or set standards, or correct anomalies. In most cases, these lowly-paid officers are under-resourced, ill-equipped and unprotected in their work under the hot sun.

Therefore, why should these poorly paid officers with no decision-making power and authority have to suffer for the performance of those who hold the power and authority to decide for the institution? The Board and Management of NAWEC, like any other institution, bear primary responsibility for the performance of the institution.

They have the power and authority to decide on resources, recruitment, personnel, services and overall direction of the institution. They have the power and authority to set standards, targets and ensure accountability. Hence the performance of NAWEC lies first and foremost with the top Management and the Board of Directors. They are the ones to be punished!

The question is, have the Management and the Board of NAWEC been up to the task? If they were, how come the institution is underperforming? Meantime these top officials in the Management and Board enjoy the highest salaries, allowances, incentives and benefits. They enjoy these incentives so that they will provide the best strategies, effective management and quality policy direction for the institution. But their failure to ensure efficiency, performance and delivery is the reason why NAWEC has underperformed.

Therefore, the SOE Commission cannot impose a flat punishment for everyone equally. The Commission should have figured that some NAWEC staff bear more responsibility than others and accordingly distribute the punishment. Some directors in NAWEC are receiving more than 200% above the salary of some junior staffers in the field. Yet these field staff cannot do anything if the resources and equipment they need are not available, which should have come from the top directors.

I wish to call on the NAWEC Staff Association to challenge this unfair, unjust and discriminatory decision by the SOE Commission. They must not accept to suffer the poor leadership and management of the Board and the directors and managers. There is a lot of corruption in the SOEs perpetrated by their boards and management, which is the reason for their poor performance. How then can the junior and field staff suffer for the misconduct of those at the top?

Meantime, the SOE Commission and the Ministry of Finance should be transparent about their work. Since these performance contracts were signed, the documents have not been released publicly. The report by the SOE Commission on NAWEC is also not released publicly. Citizens have a right to know what is in those performance contracts and the NAWEC Report. If the Government is interested in ensuring that SOEs are performing efficiently in their work, then it must be transparent. Citizens have a right to know.

Source: The Standard Newspaper | Gambia

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