By Alagie Jinkang
According to Todaro (1992), economic development is a multidimensional process involving the reorganization and reorientation of the entire economic and social systems. In addition to improvement in income and output; it typically involves radical changes in institutional, social, and administrative structures as well as in popular attitudes and in many cases even customs and beliefs.
Most of us take our present socio-political condition to be very fragile and therefore exaggerate matters without having to put history into context to better broaden our perspectives of building the broken infrastructure and regenerate our political institutions to give Gambian citizenry the basic liveable conditions. To rejuvenate our economy and build the basic infrastructure must not and cannot wholly depend on international aids from IMF or World Banks or corporations and NGOs.
To put it more banal, most of them are mere bunches of robbers and plunderers. Of course, I have no doubt that such aids can be used to augment the efforts of our nation building when they are made transparent and put into the right places –but the destinations of most of these aids are already known well before their implementations. Most of them are usually used to build giant white elephant structures to the very detriment of the tax payers’ monies. The most extensive part of our post-colonial history has been suspended by false international aids that never (will) lead to a sustainable development. I define sustainable development as the economic model that knows that there are limits to growth and thus proliferate indigenous innovations to provide at least the basic necessities of a particular society. For sustainable development to be achieved, it must not be based on imported loans and policies that propagate some hidden neoliberal objectives that will never help the indigenisation of our economy, technology and education.
To understand the full ramification of the Western philosophy of aids and the clandestine intentions within, Gambians will just have to closely examine those structural adjustment programs the IMF and the World Bank inflicted on us and other least developed countries since 1950’s. The causes had never been stated explicitly but the consequences were clear –we have become the shadow of our former selves with broken infrastructures, speedy unemployment and hunger which are all sustained by poverty and diseases. The Gambia cannot (and should not) rely on international ‘humanitarian aids’ for its sustainable development –they will lead us nowhere and the IMF and the World Bank are very well aware of these. The STPs and FTIs have paralyzed the developmental processes of Africa in many ways and some of the failures are still apparent in The Gambia –it has increased our economic dependency on the industrialized countries, it decapitated our own indigenous policies and processes, and made us indebted inter-generationally compromising with our future.
What is it that our government is not telling us about all the ‘dirty’ aids that are entering into our economy? My aim in this article is to enquire as a concerned citizen the conditionality clauses attached to those loans that are entering but left undiscussed but which we will as citizens repay. These unfocused and cancerous aids masqueraded in nice and inconspicuous policies are nothing but pure imperial projects deliberately designed to keep us impoverished and forever dependent on the West as our bread baskets. But these aids come with not only sinister conditions, they also promote corruption and mismanagement since they are never properly planned to be executed to solve local problems. Western aids, especially those from the IMF and the World Bank are poisonous and very contagious in a speed much faster than many of our economists and politicians will want to tell us. Their effects on the social sector has at least been very poor, degrading and immoral as they make more and more people vulnerable due to many things not exhaustive to managerial incompetence.
To rejuvenate our local economy, it does not have to depend on aids from the West. That will be so simple and dangerous given the situation of our transitional government. What is actually taking place under the full watch of everyone but more so, the unthoughtful actions and inactions of the ministries of finance and foreign affairs is really unexpected. Hazardous aids must be appropriately scrutinized to validate their feasibility and the general good they offer.
Now that Jammehism has come to an ‘end’, who is to keep peace and development in The Gambia?
To answer this question, we must first of all meticulously look into our fundamental institutions such as agriculture, economy, health, education, tourism, our parliament and security whose collaboration will determine a lot the results we arrive at the end of the transition period. It is about time we started voting on the monies and other things entering The Gambia in the surreptitious names of loans, aids and credits before we are unexpectedly tied to the neck.
My view about the new government is both a manifestation of courage and the demise of external control through aids – the very reason why I vehemently believe our coalition government must not depend on foreign aids. But it seems we are being littered day-by-day with those undisclosed unrecoverable expensive foreign aids that will seriously interfere with our national objectives, if we sit down and roll our sleeves. As a poor country, The Gambia has developed the instinct in relying on developed nations for our own development which is outrageously unwise.
Beware: the wolves are within!
The coalition government in developing areas of the economy, social structures, and even attitudes and customs of the nation, they must seek indigenous solutions first and others only secondarily. It will be a deliberate mistake for this government to ask for unworthy loans which are destined to be mismanaged (due to ill preparation and modeming of priorities) and which we will all pay for at the end. And mismanagement starts from not telling the citizenry where the already granted loans are going to and what conditions are put on them. When the negative effects (massive corruption, embezzlement, and poverty) of these aids are greater than their positive outcomes (economic growth, better infrastructure and outstanding socio-political institutions) we must denounce them and take up with our own innovative measures. None of these developed nations strongly depends or depended on aids. Instead, they were innovative and protectionists until globalization and capitalism made that impossible and most importantly because they (international governments) want to eat from the poorest of the poor. But to make globalization work for all, the World Bank and the IMF must start to treat all countries genuinely (which it had never done).
The Gambia, with all its weaknesses in economic development has always been good at drafting attractive goals for seeking these aids but, until today, our leaders/governments are not able to bring them into execution due to selfish gains and ambitions such as corrupt practices, embezzlement of funds, and using monies generated from international organizations like International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for misplaced priorities is the cause of our many woes in The Gambia. Most parts of The Gambia still remain impoverished and disadvantaged and whose sufferings are most of the times forgotten immediately these aids are granted but who are the first to bitterly pay for them.
My question to the coalition government is this: of what use will the aid from World Bank and the IMF be if the people still continue to observe for more than half a century poor living standards which can render them unhealthy and unproductive anyway?