I was the least impressed with Hon. Youths and Sports Minister’s decision to, in the first place, fly with athletes to the UK and Turkey when his presence is tangential to the event, symbolizes the bystander effect, and sadly a misplaced expenditure of our budget.
The huge estacodes that were spent on him—and inappropriately on his wife—could have been spent in productive ways. It is self-serving malfeasance to allot per diem to the minister’s wife when she didn’t make it to the UK because she was allegedly denied visa. It would’ve been better if she returned the money, and best if she didn’t go at all.
What do you make of the £300.00 per diem (for 14 days) given to the honorable minister in this trip? Well, what I make of it is that it is more than three months worth of salary for an average Gambian working in the police, in the military, in pedagogy; it is more than the total biennial income of an average peasant farmer living in Central River Region.
There are scores of youths, whose affairs are under the minister’s purview, that are trying to set-up businesses but don’t have the financial threshold to kick-start. Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on those youths to be self-reliant and to open floodgates for employment of more young people?
Unfortunately, there are some people who brushed aside the national interest to explain away this abnormality and accord it a justification because of primitive connections and relations. Such is one of the reasons corruption endures in this country. We beam light on it only when it doesn’t involve our kith and kin. It is through shunning those narrow lines and closing ranks that corruption can be fought and extinct.
I’m not flying off at a tangent but worthy to mention is the prevalence of similar actions across our many government departments. Government officials undertake trips in which their assignments do not match the per diems they receive therefrom. It should and must stop. Per diem, in my estimation and consideration of Gambia’s economic status, should not exceed £15.00. That way we would minimise unnecessary spending of money.
There are still some financial voids in our Health and Education sectors. Some hospitals in the country are under-equipped. They lack beds, medication, surgical equipments and the list is not exhaustive.
There are schools that lack textbooks, furniture, science and computer labs or where they exist, are devoid of laboratory apparatuses. The whole country was nonplussed just yesterday when the results of our grade 12 students were released, indicating the need to heavily invest in education.
The Gambia can only be built by Gambians!