The Talib Bensouda-led KMC needs to be extra cautious on how it deals with businesses owned by Talib’s mother or his family. I’m certain Mayor Bensouda knows what conflict of interest is and what constitutes corporate fraud. The majority of Gambians never pay attention to it but we now have whistleblowers and a lot of citizen journalists. Thus, every manager of public funds needs to strive to be transparent in order to minimise people casting doubts on their actions.
Last week, KMC announced that in their month of May General Council Meeting, Reliance presented a “deal for market expansion project across the municipality”. Few days after, it was again announced that KMC is partnering with Reliance for a 100 million dalasis “Dolel Jigen” Reliance controlled loan project with what Talib termed “below average interest rate”. I don’t want to sound accusatory but awarding financially benefitting deals to Reliance Financial Services – a company where his family holds large shares without any open bidding or availing equal opportunity to others in the municipality is not a good way to manage a public office.
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While both projects, from the little information out in public seem great, the question is how did the council come to the conclusion of choosing Reliance as the sole partner in this venture? Why was Supersonicz Financial Services whose CEO reluctantly commented on the matter clarified that they had been supporting Cllr Binnet Marong (the originator of the idea) before now, not approached for an expansion of what was already ongoing or for them to submit a proposal to enable KMC choose the most favourable?
On the market expansion, people will need to know what becomes of the struggling vendors at the markets if and after Reliance spends fortunes to expand them? Will it mean increase in taxes and daily paid dues? How long will Reliance manage the markets’ revenue before KMC take full ownership? But above all, I believe, KMC needs to have open bids if they want to enter into a public-private partnership. This will ensure they choose the one with favourable terms and conditions – be it Reliance or any other company.