Letters: The Final Draft Constitution Revamps Board Membership Requirements Of SOEs

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Dear editor,
The Final Draft Constitution offers progressive provisions on the appointment of the Board of Directors of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). It laid down the qualifications of the members of the Board and added the gender requirement too (see section 278(1)- (6)).
After the adoption of the new constitution, the appointment of the members of the Board of SOEs shall be done by the president in consultation with the Public Service Commission (PSC). The current practice is that the mimister who has responsibility over the SOE forwards names to the President for appointment.

Also, it has laid down three (3) years as the tenure of the members of the Board which can be renewed only once. It has provided a synchronized tenure for all SOEs, thereby making any tenure more or less than three years invalid. The Acts of the SOEs will be amended to align them to the three years, if they carry more or less than three years.
It will nationalize the Boards of SOEs in the Gambia. That is, only Gambians will become board members of the SOEs. Similarly, no member of the board without the requisite knowledge or experience in the field or trade of the SOE should be appointed.
It had also disqualified some individuals from holding membership in the boards of the SOEs. These are:

1. No member of the public service should be appointed, except as an ex-officio member

2. No National Assembly Member, member of the disciplined force, or holder of any elective post, shall be appointed.

3. No executive or holder of any post in a political party shall become a member of the board of an SOE.

4. Ex-convict of twelve years or more shall not be appointed except when pardoned.
The two other important offerings of the Draft Constitution are that a board member shall not serve more than two SOE boards, and if the chairman is a male, the vice chairperson should be a woman. The two conditions are necessary to curb the appointment of the cronies in almost all the boards of the SOEs in the Gambia, and also to create gender balance in the boards.

The foregoing requirements and conditions into the draft Constitution are far more different from what the 1997 Constitution offered, and what pertained in practice.
Simon Sabally



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