By Baba Sillah
National Assembly Members yesterday approved the Revised 2017 Budget and Amended Bill after thorough scrutiny and recommendation.
Responding to the recommendations and suggestions by the lawmakers, Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh promised the government’s readiness to address the issues raised by the members. He said during the past two decades, a lot of revenues were not represented in the book or presented before the previous National Assembly and consequently, the previous estimates did not represent the real financial situation in the country.
On the reduction of the budget allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Finance Minister said the cuts would not affect the sector. He said the Barrow government is determined to revive the sector, which has been “dormant” for the past two decades.
On the issue of unemployment, the minister suggested for the capacity of young people to be improved, to make them employable and productive. He gave a rundown of the government expenditure on fuel and vehicles used by the civil servants which he said costs millions of dalasis.
“On the issue of salary increment as raised by some Members, I think that is beyond my capacity as everyone is affected, even myself. But I promised you that it will be considered by the government and on the issue of the reduction of embassies abroad, the ministry is working with the Foreign Ministry to look into that and how to come up with a solution,” Minister Sanneh said.
He revealed that the Personnel Management Office will soon come up with a preliminary report on ghost workers and said it would take time for the economy to picks up.
National Assembly Member for Wuli West, Sidia Jatta, argued that salaries cannot be raised when there is a budget deficit. He called for sacrifice and engagement of public sector to create job opportunities. Sittings continue.