President Adama Barrow has moved his office from The Kairaba to the residence of the vice president in Fajara after questions were raised over the millions spent in having his office at the luxury hotel outside the capital, Banjul.
A leaked invoice seen by SMBC shows that nearly US$50,000 (D2 million) has been spent for the use of Kairaba by Barrow, acting VP Fatoumata Tambajang, presidential staffers, and their security detail.
Barrow admitted this month that Gambian taxpayers pay for the Kairaba bill, which raised eyebrows. The seemingly shy Barrow, who is a political newcomer, slowly bows his head when he was asked by journalist Mustapha Darboe about the supposedly wasteful spending.
A new building on the Bertil Harding Highway could have been used by Barrow, but officials say security concerns there prevented the new leader from using the nine story office complex as the seat of the president.
Using the vice president’s residence as an office will save Gambian taxpayers, who are already struggling with the broken economy, millions in dalasis.
Gambia’s treasury was left empty by its former President Yahya Jammeh, who swindled billions and left the state treasury empty.
Gambian authorities say the ousted leader fled the country with at least US$12 million, taken from Central Bank in just the last two weeks of his rule. He is currenly in Equatorial Guinea, where autocratic ruler Theodore Obiang gave him a safe haven.
The European Union has since came to the impoverished West African nation’s aid, unfreezing a €33 million aid package that was blocked over human rights concerns and giving €75 million in development aid to jumpstart the economy.