Wednesday, March 21, 2018

National Assembly requested to open a parliamentary inquiry into the SEMLEX fiasco

The Right2Know (Gambia), a civic society group, has sent a letter and a detailed note justifying the need for a parliamentary inquiry into the procurement procedure that led to the award of a contract for the production of Gambia's passport, National IDs and possibly voter's card to the family-owed company named Semlex, headed by a Syrian-Belgian.

The contract award has been marred by misapplication of standard procurement rules and procedures and interrupted by fits and starts that rendered the entire process suspect.  The detailed justification note initially addressed to  some members of the National Assembly enumerated the reasons why the Semlex saga must be scrutinized and subjected to a public probe through the National Assembly.

The Right2Know letter states "we hope that the legislature will use its oversight mandate to seek clarity on the Semlex contract, and send a clear message to constituents, the general populace and indeed the world, that The Gambia is now in an era of elevating the demand of public accountability, by cultivating a culture of good governance and the principles of separation of power."

The underlying facts and assumptions as to whether due process was followed in awarding of, what Right2Know described as "our vital social possessions" (passports and IDs) to a secretive and highly opaque company whose reputation has come more scrutiny both in countries they do business and in its own home country of Belgium.

The letter also drew attention to the contradictory pronouncements by various government ministers and public officials who were involved in one stage or the other of the procurement process, "using an avenue of secrecy to scuttle public scrutiny."

The R2K letter finally appealed to members of the National Assembly to "test the vibrancy of our new found democracy in the New Gambia.  The memebrship of the group offered its services to help draft a ToR once the motion has been tabled in the National Assembly.