EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA:-Mambury Njie, the Gambia’s Finance Minister has insisted that the election bidding contract should stay at home, adding “are they telling me that the Gambian companies cannot do it?”
Minister Njie, who was speaking to Eye Africa TV on Tuesday following discussions with lawmakers on IEC’s electoral budget for the upcoming elections, said: “And it hurts. This is taxpayers money. Gambians are paying their taxes and anytime we take the money we shipped it outside,” he said.
Even if Gambian company cannot do it, Gambian company can partner with an international company and build capacity, he suggested.
He noted that those companies coming are commercial, and will never handover the technology to the local ones, hence making it difficult to build capacity.
“So I am insisting, really we go further to in fact legislate the local content. But we have to have a test case,” he declared, emphasizing that the quality will not be compromised.
“Our preference is Gambian. If Gambian companies cannot do it they can partner with international company and we will insist on the technology and knowledge transfer to the local company.”
This, according to him, is the only way “we will boost our own companies to make sure they will be able to compete in the international market.”
Appearing before the National Assembly select committee last month, the Independent Electoral Commission argued that history has shown that the involvement of local companies in the procurement of electoral materials could engender electoral violence and dispute.
The IEC was forced to delay the start of voter registration previously slated for January 14th 2021, following an impasse with the GPPA, which raised objections over the commission’s wish to select Electoral Service International (ESI).
At least four firms have expressed interests, comprising three foreign and one Gambian by the name of Smart Business Group.
However, the IEC chief electoral officer Samboujang Njie said that taking into consideration the risks attached to local partnerships, IEC will not condone awarding the contract to a beginner.
“local contractors often belong to a political party and when they do the printing, the voter data ends up with politicians and they tamper with it,” he said.