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Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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The security issue

Hardly a month passes by without reports of some soldier or the other being arrested and accused of one crime or another. This has almost become a routine now; here a soldier is arrested for stealing, there another is arrested for robbery and recently, another is arrested for losing a gun.

With the somewhat fragile nature of the security situation in the country, reports like these do not boost the confidence of the ordinary citizens. One can imagine what the ordinary citizen will think if the very institutions that are tasked with the provision of protection and security are themselves unable to secure their own institutions and unable to control their agents.

Last week, it was reported that some military officers were arrested for possession of drugs and are still being held at the Fajara Barracks. If the very people who are to oversee the implementation of the laws of the land are the very ones breaking the law then one may conclude that the security is fragile, to say the least.

The question now being asked is: What the situation of the so much talked about the Security Sector Reform is and how far has it gone? It is indeed necessary for the SSR to look into and consider all these angles and come up with a comprehensive way to deal with the very many and complex security issues in the country.

It is a well-known fact that without security there cannot be any semblance of progress and therefore the other reforms are certainly inextricably linked with the reform of the security sector. They are like two sides of a coin; one cannot go without the other.

The Ministry of Defense should work closely with the Ministry of the Interior to come up with a way to resolve all these issues and put a mechanism in place which will resolve these issues once and for all. This is more so when recently some Senegalese soldiers wandered into some parts of the country.

The citizens of the country need to feel safe and secure in their homes and be confident that should any security issue arise, there is a force that will handle it professionally to ensure that their lives and properties are safe.

GAMBIANS TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST US POLICE KILLINGS

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Scores of people are expected to take part in a demonstration in the country as Gambians join the rest of the world to condemn US police killings of unarmed blacks.
Dozens of states in America have been on fire since last week after a footage appeared online showing a US police officer resting his knee on the neck of a black American, George Floyd, who eventually died.

There have been massive violent riots across the country since, as the police clash with protesters using rubber bullets and pepper sprays to disperse crowds.
In The Gambia while people followed the ugly developments in some states in the US, news broke Saturday night that a Gambian, Momodou Lamin Sisay, son of a UN diplomat Lare Sisay was shot dead by the police in Georgia. The police claimed Sisay was involved in a shootout.

The news, which came on the heels of strings of police killings of blacks in America, caused a huge uproar among Gambians.
Madi Jobarteh, a human rights activist, said a police permit will be sought to hold a procession in front of the US Embassy in Banjul to convey their dissatisfaction with the way blacks are treated by US police.

“The protest is planned for Monday June 8 at 10am. We will converge in silence. We will stand on one knee like Colin Kaepernick to symbolize our mourning and condemnation of the acts of violence meted out to Blacks in the US by the police. By 10:30am we will hand over a signed petition to the Ambassador and then peacefully disperse. You can sign the petition if you come to the protest site.

“We will ensure social distancing and we urge all to donate and bring face masks, water buckets and soap and hand sanitizers in respect of the state of emergency regulations,” Madi said.

Giving a bit of context to the planned protest, Mr Jobarteh added: “It was white people from Europe and America who got up on their own to come to Africa hundreds of years ago to forcefully kidnap our ancestors and then carry them into slavery in the Americas against their will. Kunta Kinteh never asked to be made a slave. The kings and people of Niumi never invited white people to visit their village to kidnap Kunta Kinteh. Rather slavery was the imagination and invention of White People and it was Europe and the United States that emerged successful from slavery. The people of Juffureh, Niumi, The Gambia and the entire Africa only lost and became weak socially, economically and politically because of slavery.

Kunta Kinteh and his descendants worked all their lives in the United States to build the country and its vast economy to what it is today, for free. Our Ancestor Kunta was never paid for his labour. Even when the US President Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863 that he had freed the slaves, the US Government until today has failed to pay back its Black citizens their fair share or uphold and protect their rights. Even the promise of forty acres and a mule that the US Government said it would give to each and every Black person since 1865 until today the US Government has failed to fulfill that promise.”

Lawyer Martin calls for alliance against Barrow in 2021

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By Amadou Jadama

Assan Martin, a human rights lawyer and political activist has said it would be prudent for political parties to come together and form a formidable alliance to get rid of President Adama Barrow in the 2021 election.

Speaking to The Standard at his residence in Bundung Friday, Mr Martin said there are many reasons to justify such a stance and chief among them is that Barrow has failed the coalition, and has also betrayed the trust and confidence bestowed on him by Gambians.
“The method we used to remove Jammeh in 2016 should be the same method to adopt to get rid of this government. But the new coalition should be more focused on national interest and put aside political differences and it should not just serve as a means of removing a president.

So I’m calling on all political parties in the country, whether you are small or big party to get ready and to make sure that they come together in the interest of The Gambia in order to salvage our country in 2021. They should do the right thing for the people,”he said.
Explaining why Barrow should go, Martin said the inspiration Gambians expected to get from the 2016 change has not matched with performance by the government because Gambian people’s living conditions remain poor.

He said many other things such as the security and civil service reforms have not been successfully done. He added that it was not enough to blame Jammeh for all the ills of the nation, but we must also put in place things that will change those bad days to brighter ones, which this government fails to do.

“With a diligent and serious leadership, we should no longer suffer in this country, but unfortunately, and again, because of mismanagement of public funds and poor administration, we are bound to suffer. When this Covid-19 emerged the countries who are responsible have taken their preventive measures, which The Gambia should have followed but our preparation was very poor and we are still poorly equipped to deal with the pandemic,” he said

He added:”Let me tell you the next war is not going to be fighting a dictatorship, that is gone. The next war is going to be against corruption. People have been killed because corruption leads to failure of institutions”.

Lawyer Martin further noted that there are some elements in Barrow’s government who are misleading him. “Because at the end of the day those people who are not guiding him good are exploiting him to fill their pockets,”he said. Martin said the recent revelations by the Health Minister suggest there is deep corruption and the government must investigate and act now to address it.

Marie Sock to run for president

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By Amadou Jadama & Mafugi Ceesay

With just over 18 months to go before 2021 presidential election, Marie Sock, an entrepreneur has declared she will run for president.
Addressing a press conference Saturday, Sock said she aspires to run as an independent candidate to steer the wheels of the country.

“I am here to offer myself as the captain of the ship and I can only steer the wheels to the right course for and with the youths because they don’t have a voice. I want the youths to start having voices. I want the young girls to start speaking up, coming out showing their talents and who they really are. I am going to steer this ship, but as I am standing on the steering wheel, I need every Gambian woman to stand with me,” she urged.
Sock added: “This is a journey for all the women of The Gambia and the youths who I want to represent for a better chance.”

She described the upcoming 2021 presidential election as the revolution of change for all the women and the youths of The Gambia.
“For The Gambia to move forward we have planned to work on ten cardinal pillars and they are as follows: the economy education, health, women and youth empowerment, price regulation, agriculture, infrastructure, crime, job creation, and minimum wages,” she said.
Marie Sock is the second female presidential aspirant since 2016 when Dr Isatou Touray, now vice president, declared her candidacy.

Dr Ceesay concerned about ‘pilfering’ of public funds

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By Momodou Darboe

Dr Ismaila Ceesay, a founding member of the Citizens’ Alliance, has alleged that lot of pilfering of state coffers is currently taking place in the country, adding that mismanagement of public funds hampers the provision of essential services to the population.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard at his Salagi residence over the weekend, Dr Ceesay sounded the alarm bell that the state of affairs in the country with regard to official corruption calls for the adoption of stringent anti-corruption measures.
“It is urgent that corruption is tackled. Lots of things are happening in this country that have adverse consequences. For instance, in terms of procurement malpractices. We have also seen public officials whose salaries are not able to build them a house, they are building houses. The minister’s remarks at the National Assembly that some people were conspiring to defraud the state by coming up with names that never existed to get Covid-19 funds. Not only that but it is at every level,” Dr Ceesay lamented.

“So, this shows you that something is happening in this country which is not normal. It is critical that the government comes up with a comprehensive strategy to fight corruption because it [corruption] inhibits confidence in Gambia in terms of business because investors want to invest in a country that has less corruption,” the political scientist advised the Barrow-led administration.

He added: “It is also about services to the people. Government needs to provide education, healthcare, infrastructure, security… Now, the money we lose through corruption will make us not focus on providing these services for our people due to the pilfering of public coffers by few individuals. It is therefore critical at this juncture for Gambia’s development. If we want to fight poverty, attract investors, provide employment and proper and quality education for our young people and quality healthcare, we must fight corruption because todaywhat is happening in this country, the majority of the money that should be spent on these critical services are pilfered by few people.”

According to Dr Ceesay, a serious fight against corruption will not only instill investor confidence in the public sector and the economy but will enable government pay for social services.

Meanwhile Gambia is the 96th least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.

Christian Council says draft constitution does not fully protect Christians

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The Gambia Christian Council has said the 2020 draft Constitution presented to the president by CRC still falls short of protecting Christian religious rights.
In statement shared with The Standard, the GCC argued: “Apart from the text of the draft itself which allows for more than a single interoperation on this issue the primary concern of the Christian Community is driven by the reality of its experiences during the Jammeh era. The Christian community wishes to ensure that its rights as a minority religion are protected in the said Constitution. For more than 20 years, we have watched helplessly as the government openly encouraged and permitted the construction of mosques in government institutions, at the expense of other religions, including Christianity and in a country which the government was not permitted to prefer any one religion over another.

Arabic inscriptions were placed over government offices and the dress code of female students in schools was altered to require schoolgirls and women functionaries to wear the Hijab in public as their peers are obliged to do in Arab Islamic countries. The overwhelming feedback from a large section of the population is that they want a Gambia where both Christians and Muslims continue to coexist in peace and good neighbourliness as they have for generations. This generational legacy of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence however, is now under a real threat ironically because of the 2020 Draft Constitution.

Instead of marking a return to order and the rule of law, the adopted text of the Constitution has plunged The Gambia into even greater chaos as regards religious tolerance. It is having the effect of polarising rather unifying us as a nation. The new Constitution has for the first time since The Gambia became an independent country created a parallel legal system to the common law system, this is the Shari’ah legal system. The Constitution makes it mandatory for the majority of the Gambian people to be subject to Shari’ah law in matters of marriage, burial, inheritance, adoption, endowments, all the key areas of human life. We acknowledge that the CRC has incorporated in its final draft some of the changes proposed by the Gambia Christian Council, and the Interfaith Group. So we thank the CRC for listening and hearing some of the concerns of the Christian community and are satisfied that the new Constitution ensures that: 1. 1. The State will not show preferential treatment to any citizen on account of his or her religion and shall treat all citizens equally as detailed in Section1 (3) (page 2), Section12 (2) (b) (page 6) and Section 69 (6) (page 29). 2. 2. The State shall respect and protect the rights of every person to hold, promote and exercise our beliefs, refer to Section 49 (1-4) (page 24). 3. 3. No State religion is created whether by the National Assembly or President as recorded in Section153 (2) (b) (page 71) and Section 88 (5) (b) (page 40).

Nonetheless we are concerned that Christians may be subject to the Shariah High Court as the Constitution submitted to the President unlike the 1997 Constitution has used a very vague term rather than the clear language that is required on this issue. Section 188 of the Draft Constitution gives the Shari’ah High Court jurisdiction “amongst people who are subject to Shari’ah in that regard”. Not only is this subjective but also opens room for conflict as Christians CANNOT be subject to Shari’ah law in any area including the matters of marriage, burial, inheritance, adoption and endowments. The Gambia Christian Council is therefore requesting that the President, Cabinet Ministers and National Assembly Members intervene to correct what we believe could only have been an oversight on the part of the drafters by inserting wording which leaves no room for any doubt that Shari’ah applies only to Muslims and that it is not intended to apply to Non-Muslims. The Gambia Christian Council acknowledges the support and encouragement of the vast majority of Muslims in particular members of the Interfaith Group during a difficult phase of the public consultation process. We pray that we “all may continue to live in unity, freedom and peace each day” as it says in our National Anthem as we strive to move closer to The Gambia we all want”.

Family, colleagues continue search for missing veteran journalist Jonkunda

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Family of veteran Gambian journalist Junkunda Daffeh are getting disturbed as one month passes without any trace of their loved one.

Daffeh, a former journalist who worked for the AP news agency and other international news organizations, disappeared from home since beginning of May and has since not returned after persistent searches conducted by the family.

Kemo Conteh, a family member said one month has gone by since Daffeh went missing without trace or any information regarding his whereabouts.
He added that the matter is reported to the police but no progress has been made.
The family is seeking the support of the public on any information about him, to contact numbers 236 6475 or 373 0077 or 2484149.

Escaped Abuko hyena recaptured

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By Tabora Bojang

One of the two hyenas that escaped from the Abuko Nature Reserve Thursday was recaptured within 48 hours and returned safely to the park after a thorough search covering the bush around Faji Kunda, Tabokoto and Tallinding.
The director of parks and wildlife, Momodou L Kassama confirmed that the two hyenas escaped from the park at around 2am Thursday, when a fight broke out among hyenas kept at the same location.

“The escaped vulnerable hyenas chewed through the rusted wire fence and managed to escape in order to gain freedom,” the wildlife director said.
According to him, one of the escaped hyenas unfortunately died from beatings by some boys in Tabokoto who chased and seriously beat it in the mangroves within Abuko, Faji Kunda and Tallinding before the arrival of response team led by himself.

The director said he and the team spent the whole of Friday night in the mangroves and even attempted a fore shot to create panic for the escaped hyena before it was sighted by around 5am and safely returned to the park.

News of the escape of the two hyenas sparked fear within the communities of Tabokoto, Faji Kunda, Abuko and Tallinding who feared they may be exposed to attack by the wild beasts.

However, director Kassama said hyenas have always had interface with the people and their escape had posed no huge threat to the public.
“Cannibalism is an occurring practice in the hyena family where survival of the fittest matters at most times and as those that felt vulnerable would often seek freedom else where. It is just that they don’t have a good reputation but hyenas rarely attack people and they do not pose threat to the public. But what is important in this specific case is now the situation is under control and there is no cause for alarm,” Kassama added.

Alkalolu petition transport Union over fare increment

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By Tabora Bojang

Three Alkalolu and their village development committees from the Kombo South settlements of Madiana, Banyaka and Kunkujang Mariama have petitioned the Gambia Transport Union to act over what they call ‘unjustifiable’ conduct of drivers who ‘charge exorbitant’ fares from the stipulated tariff of the villages blaming it on the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the petition, the coronavirus pandemic is not the creation of anyone but a natural cause, and “drivers cannot use that as an excuse to charge exorbitant fares.”
The communities further decried that the actual transportation fare from Tipper Garage in Bakoteh to the three villages was D18 but it was swiftly increased to D35 since coronavirus restrictions were announced.

“The councillor of Brufut ward Sulayman Kinteh led a delegation of the named VDC members on Monday to negotiate with the drivers but to no avail.”
The petitioners from Madiana, Banyaka and Kunkujang Mariama said the roads connecting their communities are the busiest because of commuters who are mainly women vegetable sellers.

The concerned VDCs and Alkalolu strongly urged the drivers to respect and comply with the stipulated tariff of D18 and stay away from the garages concern to avoid trouble.
They also urged the communities to closely work with the authorities to enforce the rules and apply disciplinary action against any defaulters.

All COVID-19 funds will be audited, Finance Minister Njie assures

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Quadrangle, Banjul, 29th May 2020 – The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mambury Njie has assured the public that the financial expenditure and management of the COVID19 Health Fund, as well as the procurement of the emergency food support initiative, will be thoroughly investigated by external auditors.

Minister Njie made the remarks on Wednesday during a press conference at the McCarthy Square, Banjul where the Vice President, who doubles as the Chair of the Cabinet Sub-committee on COVID19, updated the public on the state of the ongoing emergency food distribution exercise across the country.

”In governance everything is procedural. There are people called Auditors and they will investigate the management of the finances and the procurement process,” the Finance Minister assured, stressing that the government can only act on official findings.
”They [auditors] have started work and we must wait for the outcome of the findings. We cannot rush to a conclusion or act on mere allegations of corruption. We can only act on the findings of the Auditors; therefore, we have to wait on the audit findings.”

The food support is for all people
The Minister also clarified that all the people in the country, including foreign nationals who are found to be needy, are entitled to benefit from the government’s emergency food support. That was the instruction of the president, he said.

“As long as you’re in The Gambia and in need, you are entitled to the food assistance because President Barrow considers all people in the Gambia, irrespective of nationality, as part of his care and family.”

Speaking earlier, the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray expressed ”immense thanks and gratitude” to the Ministry of Finance and other member-ministries of the Cabinet sub-committee on COVID19 for successfully coordinating the response efforts. She also thanked the President of the Republic for initiating the largest humanitarian

European Union extends BReST project support to women and children in response to the COVID-19 outbreak

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Press release

In light of the continued low scale spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its unavoidable socio-economic consequences, the European Union has taken the decision to extend the successful Building Resilience through Social Transfers- BReST project being implemented by UNICEF, the National Nutrition Agency NaNA and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare until end of August 2020.

These 3 months extension will allow for a second wave of emergency COVID-19 cash transfers to the most vulnerable households in the project implementing regions of CRR, URR and NBR. In the last few weeks, the EU BReST project already provided a first COVID-19 cash transfers of 1,500 GMD per mother and child pair. This second transfer intends to continue supporting the purchase of essential food and hygiene items to combat the spread of COVID-19 using funds from the final remaining financial balance under the project. It shows the commitment of the European Union to ensure EU funds directly reach the people, wherever possible.

”The European Union continues to stand in support of the Gambian people in their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 and overcome its consequences. In this case, the EU is once again using BReST as the main conduit for cash transfers directly to the people. This project is indeed a working example that could be built on for future social protection systems in The Gambia once the COVID crisis is over” says the European Union Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia, H.E. Attila LAJOS.

BReST is a successful nutrition, social protection and cash transfer project funded by the European Union in the tune of 3 million Euro and implemented by UNICEF that has been benefitting pregnant and lactating mothers with children under the age of two and has been under implementation since 2017.
For more information please contact: [email protected]

Minister Bah: MoTC to operationalise the national fund for arts and culture

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Press release

Hon. Hamat N.K Bah, minister of Tourism and Culture has disclosed that the National Fund for Arts and Culture (NAFAC) is set to be operationalised. This, he said is meant to support artistic and cultural programmes of the country including festivals, publication of books and historical research, among others.

The Tourism and Culture minister made this disclosure on Wednesday, 27th May 2020 during a virtual forum of the African Union Ministers responsible for Arts, Culture and Heritage on their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organised by the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, the forum brought together ministers in charge of Arts, Culture and Heritage from AU-Member States, Pan African Cultural Organisations, Regional Economic Communities, UN Organisations, and officials from AU Commission. It is aimed to enable stakeholders discuss urgent actions to support the arts, culture and heritage sector in Africa, in line with the AU Continental Strategy in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

Further in his remarks, Minister Bah explained that already the legal framework for the NAFAC is in place in the NCAC Act, 2003. This Fund, he said, will be run by a congress comprising Gambian artists, arts administrators and National Assembly Select Committee.
He informed the meeting that since the change in Government in 2017, all sectors of the arts-literature, fine arts, festivals, drama, film, dance, photography- have seen a big boost in terms of participation and even investment in terms of printing shops, studios, record labels among others. According to him, the rise in private broadcasting has supported this boost, likewise the legal framework such as the Copyright Act and Regulations, which protect the artistic works of Gambians. “It is the youth who are now heavily involved in the creative sector as a conduit for self employment. Therefore, this sector is critical to the national development paradigm of National Development Plan 2018-2021,” he noted.

COVID-19 and its impact on the sector
The minister further told the meeting that in early March 2020, The Gambia Government declared a State of Health Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit The Gambia just as it has hit the rest of the world. He said the culture and creative industries have in enormous ways been negatively affected by this state of affairs. “The closing of performances, venues, galleries, studios, museums, including our UNESCO World Heritage Sites and bookshops meant a loss of revenue to the sector. Festivals have been postponed, artist events cancelled and artistic mobility banned, which means a loss of heavy revenue including foreign exchange, and moral to the sector and investments in the arts sector such as in instruments for hire, studio gadgets, and technicians have been severely affected,” he stated.

COVID-19 Responses by Gambia Government
The Tourism minister reported that through the UNESCO Resiliart Project, The Gambia Government has mobilised Gambian artists and cultural players and administrators to dialogue on the impact of the pandemic on their work and chart a way forward. “On May 6 and 7 Gambian artists dialogued via teleconferencing with UNESCO officials and Gambian officials. A post Covid-19 framework for the arts sector is envisaged to come out of this dialogue,” he noted.

He added that The Gambia Government through The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), has contacted The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to recommend that they extend their COVID-19 Social Support to artists and cultural players who are adversely affected.

Therefore, he went on, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has developed a project proposal for COVID-19 response for the arts and tourism sector. This, he said, has been submitted by the Ministry to relevant authorities. “This envisages a rescue plan for small business in the arts and heritage sector in terms of soft loans and grants”.
He told the meeting that other post-COVID-19 measures are: to strengthen the Copyright royalties mechanism so that their radio stations, hotels, taxis, can pay for music and other artistic materials they use; establish an arts training institute to build capacity and entrepreneurship; and strengthen the various artistic associations such as Writers Association and Music Union to give Gambian artists autonomy and agency.

“Finally, it is our firm belief that the arts and culture sector will rebound post-COVID-19. This pandemic will afford us opportunity to put more emphasis on the arts and heritage sector, and to make it more responsive to our development aspirations. In this regard, we will continue to count on the support of the AU and all our friendly nations and people.” he concluded.

By: Mariatou Ngum
Information Officer, MOTC

MPC reviews disruptive effects of Covid-19 on the Gambian economy

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The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of The Gambia met on Thursday May 28, 2020, amid heightened global economic uncertainty due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The Committee reviewed the disruptive effects of the crisis on The Gambian economy and decided on appropriate monetary policy response. The following are highlights of the deliberations on key economic indicators that informed the Committee’s decision.

Global economic outlook
1. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the global economy. The socio-economic impact of the strict containment measures needed to curb the spread of the virus is enormous. These measures have disrupted economic activity, created massive uncertainty, and economies around the world are plunging into recession. Although countries have started to gradually and cautiously reopen economies, the risks remain elevated.

2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast the global economy to contract by 3.0 percent in 2020, largely reflecting a combination of demand and supply shocks due mainly to the pandemic. However, the forecast is underpinned by large scale uncertainty. In sub-Saharan Africa, the projected income losses due to the crisis are threatening to reverse the economic progress made in recent years. The region is expected to register a negative growth of 1.6 percent in 2020.

Real sector developments
3. The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) has revised upwards the growth in 2018 by 0.4 percentage points to 7.0 percent, higher than 4.8 percent in 2017. The real GDP growth for 2019 is estimated at 6.3 percent, higher than an earlier projection of 6.0
percent. Growth in 2019 was supported largely by the increase in agricultural
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production, construction, and the strong performance of the tourism sector as well as improved business sentiments.
4. Preliminary assessment shows that The Gambian economy will contract by 1.2 percent in 2020, reflecting the disruptive effect of the pandemic, particularly on tourism and related activities, trade, and private investment. However, in the light of current developments, the uncertainty around the forecast increases as the crisis protracts.

External sector developments
5. Preliminary balance of payments (BoP) estimates indicated that the current account balance worsened to a deficit of US$57.8 million (3.2 percent of GDP) in the first three months of 2020 from a surplus of US$4.05 million (0.23 percent of GDP) in the corresponding period of 2019, due mainly to the worsening of the goods account balance.
6. The goods account deficit is estimated at US$155.1 million (8.6 percent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2020, compared to a deficit of US$85.1 million (4.8 percent of GDP) in the same period in 2019. Export receipts increased by 39.9 percent to US$50.0 million during the period under review. Imports increased by 67.2 percent to US$209.4 million in 2020 from US$125.3 million in the same period in 2019.
7. The surplus in the services accounts stood at US$29.0 million in the first three months of 2020 compared to US$46.5 million in the same period last year, due largely to the decrease in income from personal travels.
8. The gross international reserves stood at US$265.61 million and it is projected at over 4 months of next year’s imports of goods and services.

Foreign exchange market developments
9. Recent data indicates that the foreign exchange market remains stable characterized by adequate foreign currency liquidity, and stable exchange rate. The supply conditions continue to be stable despite the COVID-19 crisis, supported largely by large foreign inflows from official development assistance and private remittances. Latest data suggests that private remittance inflows remained strong as at end-April 2020.
10. The volume of transactions in the domestic foreign exchange market in the 12 months to end-April 2020 stood at US$2.08 billion compared to US$2.10 billion in the corresponding period in 2019. Purchases, indicating supply totaled US$1.03 billion compared to US$1.05 billion a year ago. Sales, indicating demand, decreased marginally by 0.95 percent to US$1.04 billion.
11. From December 2019 to April 2020, the dalasi depreciated against the US dollar by 0.1 percent but appreciated against the Great Britain pound by 4.8 percent and euro by 1.0 percent.

Fiscal operations
12. Preliminary estimates of government fiscal operations indicate that overall deficit (including grants) worsened from D24.3 million (0.03 percent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2019 to a deficit of D341.6 million (0.4 percent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2020. The budget deficit excluding grants, however, improved to D0.5 billion (0.5 percent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2020 compared to D1.97 billion (2.3 percent of GDP) in the same period in 2019.

13. Revenue and grants in the first three months of 2020 decreased to D4.7 billion (4.8 percent of GDP) from D5.0 billion (5.7 percent of GDP) registered in the corresponding period in 2019. Domestic revenue, which comprises tax and non-tax revenue increased to D4.5 billion (4.6 percent of GDP) during the period under review from D3.0 billion (3.5 percent of GDP) the same period last year.

14. Total government expenditure and net lending increased slightly to D5.02 billion (5.1 percent of GDP), compared to D5.01 billion (5.7 percent of GDP) in 2019. Recurrent expenditure increased by 23.5 percent to D4.1 billion (4.1 percent of GDP) during the period under review. Capital expenditure, on the other hand,
3 decreased to D948.7 million (0.96 percent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2020 from D1.7 billion (1.95 percent of GDP) in the same period last year.

Domestic debt developments
15. The Gambia’s domestic debt remains high. The stock of domestic debt increased to D33.6 billion or 33.2 percent of GDP as at end-April 2020 from D32.5 billion or 35.7 percent of GDP in the corresponding period in 2019. The stock of Treasury and Sukuk Al Salaam bills increased by 4.0 percent to D20.2 billion as at end-April 2020.
16. Yields on the 91-day and 182-day Treasury bills decreased to 3.96 percent and 6.71 percent in April 2020 from 4.73 percent and 6.85 percent in April 2019, respectively. Average yield on the 365-day Treasury bill, on the other hand, increased to 11.59 percent from 9.51 percent during the period under review.

Banking sector developments
17. The banking sector remains fundamentally sound with high level of capital and liquidity. Year-on-year, total assets of the industry expanded by 7.4 percent to D50.9 billion as at end-March 2020. The risk-weighted capital adequacy ratio stood at 33.2 percent as at end-March 2020, significantly higher than the statutory requirement of 10 percent. All the banks are above the minimum capital requirement. The liquidity ratio of the banking industry stood at 95.3 percent at end-March 2020, also significantly higher than the requirement of 30 percent. Non-performing loans ratio was 4.8 percent at end-March 2020.

Monetary developments
18. Money supply (M2) growth slowed from 19.2 percent at end-March 2019 to 18.1 percent as at end-March 2020. The net foreign assets of the banking system stood at D15.7 billion compared to D12.8 billion a year earlier. Similarly, net domestic assets grew by 15.5 percent to D27.1 billion during the period under review.
19. Year-on-year, reserve money growth decelerated markedly from 23.3 percent in March 2019 to 13.0 percent in the year to end-March 2020. Growth in reserve money was driven largely by the increase in the net foreign assets (NFA) of the Central Bank.

Price developments
20. Inflation remained largely subdued due to weak domestic demand, low global oil prices, and stable exchange rate. Headline inflation declined to 5.6 percent in April 2020 from 6.9 percent in April 2019, driven largely by the deceleration in non-food inflation.
21. The consumer price inflation of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased from 6.27 percent in April 2019 to 6.97 percent in April 2020. The major drivers of food inflation during the period were Bread Cereals, Meat, Fish, Fruits, and non-alcoholic beverages.
22. Non-food inflation decelerated to 3.3 percent in April 2020 from 8.7 percent in April
2019. Consumer price inflation for all the components of non-food inflation decreased except transportation and miscellaneous items.

The Committee noted the following:
• The global economic outlook in 2020 has deteriorated significantly and remains highly uncertain. Disruptions to economic activity, particularly trade and supply chains, and the collapse of tourism are having unprecedented toll on the global economy.
• The Committee observed the disruptive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Gambian economy, especially on tourism and related activities as well as trade and investment.
• The Central Bank’s quarterly Business Sentiment Survey indicated a significant shift in business sentiment since the last survey due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses project low economic activity in the remainder of 2020.
• The exchange rate of the Dalasi to remain stable in the near-term, given the comfortable level of international reserves of the Bank and the strong official
inflows.
5
• The Committee noted that the outlook for inflation is favorable with both the headline inflation and core inflation trending downwards.
• The headline inflation decelerated markedly in April 2020, driven mainly by the decline in non-food inflation. The current rate of inflation is broadly in line with expectations.

• However, there are risks to the outlook, including:
? There is substantial uncertainty about the trend of global food prices in the light of current developments given supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
? In the absence of a vaccine, the uncertainty will increase.
? The high level of public debt poses risk to overall macroeconomic stability.

Decision
Given above developments, the committee decided the following:
– Reduce the monetary policy rate by 2 percentage points to 10 percent to support the economy.
– Reduce the statutory required reserve ratio by 2 percentage points to 13 percent. This will release about D700 million liquidity to banks.
– Maintain the interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 3 percent and the interest rate on the standing lending facility at 1 percentage points above the monetary policy rate.

Banks are highly encouraged to translate these to increased lending to the private sector.

The Committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to act accordingly.

 

‘GFF Must Not Rescind Their Decision’

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Ansumana Camara, a member of the current champions Brikama United Football Club has called on the Gambia Football Federation, GFF, not to change their mind on their latest decision on the league just because Real de Banjul rejects the offer to go to Caf.
The GFF declared the league null and void and chose Real and Armed Forces to represent the country in Caf. Many people did not agree and Real de Banjul turned down the offer because it did not come with the crown as title holders.

However in a write-up shared with The Standard, Mr Camara said the position of the GFF was made clear after meetings in a WhatsApp group of club presidents and Federation members. “Teams that stand 1st and 2nd positions in the recently ‘Null & Void’ league shall represent The Gambia in the CAF Club Championship and the Confederation respectively.

This was something that triggered public debates in the football fraternity. Little did we know that Real De Banjul will turn down the offer and instead stretch hands to claim for the entire share of the cake. Lol! I laugh not because I am enjoying this write-up, but because of a statement Real beautifully scribed on their presser and I quote “The Club does not want its members to be unfairly tainted, and we feel that we should have been crowned champions when the season was abandoned”. Isn’t this laughable?”, Mr Camara asked.
He went on to state that we do not live in an animal farm where some animals are more equal than others. “The GFF must hold the center, otherwise things will fall apart (in Chinua Achebe’s voice). The GFF must hold the bull by the horn or risk losing their hard earned respect. Real De Banjul are playing their cards well and would want to arrest the game with a “Poker”.

Camara said crowning Real champions in a league that has 12 games to go and 36 points to fight for shall be a lifetime insult to all other teams. He added:” They better go with the little favor and biased decision already accorded to them by the Federation through their inconclusive and controversial consultations with the club presidents. Ahhh. We know the deal and can tell why they (RDB) want to be crowned champions. If you aren’t thinking like some of us, here is what they must be thinking:
– Offered the trophy with all the financial gains that come with being the champions of the league.

-Represent the Gambia at The CAF Champions league
-Add this year’s glory to their number of trophies they have in their trophy bank”.
Camara said if Real De Banjul are crowned champions as they are claiming, they will still love to represent the Gambia at CAF, more because they would now get all the financial gains that go with the title. ”It doesn’t work that way, champions become champions in the ring, not on a silver platter. Real must act real and stop playing the hide and seek game. Who told them that they would even win the league even if the league was to continue? Is it a prophecy revealed or a narration from a future-teller?”, he asked.
Camara said Gamtel FC started the season way better than any club, maintaining the top spot for a while, but currently sitting 3rd position on the table.
“If Real is real, let them stop talking about image and the Club’s members been unfairly tainted.

The GFF’s position must remain and GAF should take their position as our Rep with Gamtel coming up to the Confederation Cup. RDB’s good representation at GFF in Willy Abraham and Bakary K. Jammeh must not influence the previous stance of the Federation.
We should all go about searching for the meaning of “Null and Void” and not “abandoned” as claimed by RDB!”, Camara concluded.

“Gambia cannot afford to vote Barrow out”

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With Aisha Jallow

In this article I refer to another article, published in this newspaper in May 15.
I had to read that article several times before I managed to get something out of it. Henry Gomez made a statement that The Gambia can’t afford to vote Barrow out. His statement didn’t give us any facts or good reasons for why Barrow should remain president for 5 more years. I found his statement more of a desperate attempt to remain in the power that is giving Mr Gomez and his ilks a lot of benefits. I will give you some quotiations from the mentioned article:
“Presidential adviser on youth matters, Henry Gomez has said Gambians cannot afford to vote President Adama Barrow out in 2021.”

Really? Can we actually afford to keep him as a president? What has he done more than put the country in deeper debt than before? Our sleeping president is not known for rolling up his sleeves to get to work. Rather he is rolling away from the food table where he has had one delicious meal after the other—at the expense of poor Gambians. I wonder if he gives you a thought when he hears about your struggle to get at least one daily meal. Considering his lack of action to improve your living conditions, he seems to be both blind and deaf. The Gambia can’t afford to vote Barrow out? Quite the opposite, Mr Gomez, we can’t afford to keep him, you and others of the same kind to decide the fate of poor Gambians. You saying that only shows your ignorance and arrogance.
“Gomez said his party and all genuine Gambians will rally behind President Barrow again in 2021 to make sure that he wins a second term because this country doesn’t change presidents in every five years”.

All genuine Gambians? Who are they? Are they different from the people you see on the streets? Is there any test that can be taken to prove that someone is genuinly Gambian? A blood test, perhaps? How is it possible to confirm that someone is a genuine Gambian? What about all the mixed families? What happens if someone’s mother is from Guinea Conakry and the father is from Mali? Even if the offspring is born in the Gambia – can he/she be considered as a genuine Gambian? How far back in the bloodline must we go? Is it enough with one generation, or must we go further back?

What characterizes a genuine Gambian? Is it the faith, the shape of one’s nose, how you vote or where you live? Can you be considered as a genuine Gambian even if you live in the diaspora? Mr Gomez, you need to think before you open your mouth, that is always a good advice. You must be prepared for questions like mine, because we are plenty who have been scratching our heads when we read your statements.

Let us continue quoting Mr Gomez:
“He said although he will continue to protect the existence of his party, he is ready to personally give all his support to Barrow in the 2021 presidential election. I will serve Barrow and the Gambian people to the best of my ability”.
Isn’t that sweet? Mr Gomez will serve Barrow and the Gambian people to the best of his ability. That can’t be hard work, as we haven’t seen much result of his work yet. Don’t stretch yourself thin, Mr Gomez. Hard work is nothing for weak people.

“The GPDP leader said Gambians should know that President Barrow and his ministers are not our slaves, they are only our servants and we must respect them. Barrow is no one’s slave and he has a family and whosoever wouldn’t want your father to be insulted you shouldn’t insult someone else’s father”.

Now, now, dry your tears, Mr Gomez. This is truly a touching story, but I don’t think anyone is thinking of Barrow as a slave. Is that what he feels when he wakes up from his nap and must do some work? Oh, poor man! Don’t worry, this can be solved in an instant. Just decide to step back next year and leave the job for someone who is capable.
“People should start treating politicians with respect. If anyone wants to go to State House, you have to wait for the election and tell you one thing, the 2021 election will be history in this country because whether we like it or not President Barrow will win it. Whosoever doesn’t want to hear that can go to self-exile,” he told a local radio program.

I thought The Gambia is to be considered a democracy nowadays, but I might be wrong. According to Mr Gomez we are not allowed to have a second opinion. What not be blunt and say:” Do as you are told, or p**s off! Mr Gomez doesn’t seem to understand that his arrogance is affecting his case, because people don’t want to be told what to vote for. It is our free will and our constitional right to vote for whoever we feel fit for being the next president.

“He (Mr Gomez) argued that Gambians should be grateful to President Barrow, when he does anything commendable, like the recent releasing of over 100 prisoners and the purchasing of Covid-19 food aid.
We have to be grateful. We all know where we are from and where President Barrow has taken us. Wanting to be president would not make anyone of us president. Those who are forming political parties just to make up the numbers should ask themselves whether they would have been able to do so under Yahya Jammeh. We must stop being hypocritical,” he added.”

This is the part where I really had to stop and read it several times. ”We have to be grateful.” Eh? Barrow is doing what he is supposed to do, it is not like he is doing us any favours. ”We all know where we are from and where president Barrow has taken us.” Yeah, we are from the Gambia and Barrow has taken us in deeper debt than before! Grateful? Don’t think so!

“Wanting to be president would not make anyone of us president.” No, but Barrow is desperate to remain president and does that make him the right person in that position? Nope! ”Those who are forming political parties just to make up the numbers” understand better than that. There must be a change for the better in The Gambia, that is what the new parties are working for.

“The presidential adviser also took time to warn those responsible for distributing the Covid-19 aid against tampering with the food items.
“Anyone found wanting of selling government Covid-19 food aid will be seriously dealt with. We cannot allow one person to enjoy what thousands of people should benefit. That will not happen”.

I wonder how many Gambians have got anything of the Covid-19 food aid. Considering the desperate situation I think that those who have got nothing are keen to feed their family with it first of all. Hunger is a stronger force than greed for poor people. It is those who never need to go hungry, who can afford to be greedy. How many of the sacks of rice President Barrow was posing with, really benefited those who were in the deepest need? If you distrust your fellow Gambians, Mr Gomez, maybe there is where you need to begin your search.

Misplaced nationalism

By Alagie Saidy-Barrow

With the recent boneheaded excursion of Senegalese forces into Gambian territory, I have seen a lot of outrage against the Senegalese and the daha ganarr wahalleh sa sohla hubris of unhinged Yaya Jammeh enablers. These APRC and Yahya Jammeh enablers are still smarting over the fact that their Babili got kicked out and they cannot feed off the backs of Gambians anymore. Their so-called outrage is misplaced and not out of any desire to defend the ordinary Gambian. Yes, we all have a duty to defend our homeland (since the colonizers set our boundaries and we remain married to these lines) and we should all speak out against any transgressions against our Gambia. The Senegalese troops’ nonsense that they lost their way is insulting to say the least and anyone with a basic understanding of the fundamentals of patrols will not believe their claims. But since we mortgaged our very survival to the Senegalese, they have our necks in the proverbial chokehold to do as they please and we must play nice.

Amidst the welter of umbrage swirling around, it is important to separate the wheat of genuine umbrage from the chaff of misplaced nationalism. When you hear folks like Jam Sarr telling Senegal off, you would be wise to put his mindless outrage in the proper perspective. Again, these APRC lackeys are still angry with Senegal because they see Senegal as the main reason why the cup of Gambian blood they were drinking from was taken from their mouths. They hate Senegal. They hate the presence of ECOMIG. They are angry with the UN, AU, ECOWAS. Anyone, and any entity they think played a role in kicking Yaya Jammeh out, they hate with unbridled passion. Jam Sarr has now consigned himself into some wayward conspiracy theorist! Now its not just Senegal, France helped get rid of Yahya too. I wonder who among his fellow spineless mates in the Foreign Ministry fed him that information.

The supposed outrage of Jam Sarr and his ilk is not because they love Gambia so much, it is because they are bitter over Senegal’s role in forcing Yaya and his evil circle out. The Jam Sarrs of the APRC are angry at fellow sycophants like Sheikh Omar Faye and the other fella at the foreign affairs ministry. They all pledged allegiance to Yahya and worked to promote his evil but were quick to bolt when they saw Yahya drowning. The unlucky ones like that Lamin Bojang are not happy with fellow spineless cowards like the Masanneh Kintehs. Those who could not find a chair around the buffet table of opportunity are not happy with the spineless ones who are not only at the table, but running the show now!
I pray to God no one in The Gambia Armed Forces listens to the Jam Sarrs of this world. The man said the next government should train our soldiers to fight a gorilla warfare against the Senegalese. I guess that is his version of national security. Sometimes, you wonder how these empty heads ever became anything in the military or so-called diplomats. I guess if I have to compliment Barrow on anything, it is that he keeps these loose canons away from anything government and especially the military!

While we criticize those assigned to make our lives better, it is good to also know that not everyone criticizing is doing so from a good place. Some only criticize because they lost opportunities. Others criticize simply because they want to replace those at the buffet table so they too can eat their “share”. Others criticize because they long for the evil of Jammeh and the opportunities it came with. Others do so because of some nonsensical attachment to parochial mindsets of what tribes should be. They are quick to latch on to any form of criticism and try to remind us that Yahya did this or that. Their evil inclination will not let them see that no road or building is worth the dignity of a single woman or the life of a single Gambian. But since it is not their family members that were killed or raped, they couldn’t care less! Be ware!

New Yundum Demands Return Of Land Allocated To Nams

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By Omar Bah

The community of New Yundum, led by the Village Development Committee has called on government to return the community reserved lands on the Coastal Road opposite the Yarambamba Housing Estate, some parts of which have been allocated to members of the National Assembly.

A large chunk of the said land measuring 1000/500 meters was allocated to civil servants and lawmakers last year. They were reportedly served a 6-months notice to fence the plots or have them returned.

But in a lengthy statement issued to the media yesterday, the community of New Yundum said they are “displeased” over government’s decision to allocate their land to lawmakers for residential purposes.

“We demand that the authorities make available all documents detailing how the land was acquired, the ownership of the remaining part of the land to be transferred to the community, the said area to be henceforth addressed as New Yundum and not Old Yundum for there is no other settlement that can claim ownership of the lands except the rightful owners,” the community said in the statement.

The Community also demand that all work activities on the land be halted until all pending investigations are exhausted and that all land matters to be treated with a greater sense of urgency and prudence in order to avert delayed of justice “for justice delayed is justice denied”.

They further demanded that“all community reserve lands not to be used by anyone individual or for any residential purposes just for personal benefits or gains and the state to stop giving plots of lands for free to underserving people, agencies or institutions like that of members of the National assembly which is and cannot be justified under any condition.”
The New Yundum community said the area in question was a sacred territory used by the ancestral Kings of Yundum before being turned into farm lands by its indigenes who were farming there until recently when “unnatural activities started to unfold at the area.

“We would like to draw the attention of the general public and by extension the government of The Gambia in particular the Ministry of Lands and the members of the National Assembly of our utmost dismay, disappointment and frustration about the ‘unlawful allocations of plots belonging to the community of New Yundum to government officials and in particular, the members of the National Assembly,” the community said in their statement.

The community further argued: “We truly find this regrettable and utterly unease of how insensitive our own public officials more so National Assembly members could venture into such act of robbing the very people they are to serve genuinely. We wonder where we will end up as a country when the apex law making body is bent on such a ‘dubious activity without considering the plight of the very people who elected them into office.In fact, it will be worthy to note that the land in question is under investigation by the community’s lawyer which was previously provoked by activities of Real Estate agents/companies. The issue was also raised to the Minister of Communication who was representing the Lands Minister at the National Assembly but to our surprise and dismay the same people connived and butchered the land amongst themselves for residential purposes whilst abandoning the poor community to the mercy of severe uncertainty,” the community added.
The community said the Ministry of Lands had initially claimed that the entire area was under court eviction to one Sulayman Gaye and Njogu Cham but they later realised that not the whole area was affected.

“Our VDC was asked to write a letter of request for an official transfer of the remaining area to the community whilst the legal process takes course on the rest. To our dismay, after several months now, not a single response is heard from the ministry even after we sent several follow up letters. And we are made to further realised that the said area is now being addressed as Old Yundum/Airport Estate instead of its customary name Yarambamba or New Yundum. This, we assume is all done to change ownership to a community that will not claim the area,” the community stressed.

Police investigating Rambo’s alleged threats against Madi, Nyang Njie

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By Omar Bah

The police have opened an investigation into APRC deputy leader Rambo Jatta’s alleged threats against human rights activist, Madi Jobarteh and Nyang Njie, an economist and political pundit.

The police investigations started when Madi and Nyang lodged a formal complaint to the IGP about Rambo’s recent remarks.

Rambo Jatta recently released a WhatsApp audio attacking the two activists.
He said Nyang Njie is too diminutive to be handled, describing his legs as smaller than those of a mosquito, warning Mr Njie to watch his tongue.
Rambo also attacked Madi Jobarteh, saying he is as short as ab**t, warning that APRC is preparing for him too.

The police spokesperson ASP Lamin Njie confirmed to The Standard that the police have received the complaint from the duo and they have opened their investigations.
“I can confirm to you that the police have already taken the statements of the two this morning (Thursday) and they will continue the investigations to make sure they come to bottom of the issue,” ASP Njie said.

Explaining why they reported the matter to the IGP, Madi Jobarteh said: “I received an audio around mid-May where Rambo was addressing his APRC people and in the middle of the audio he turns to Nyang Njie and myself apparently because he is not happy with our criticism of Yahya Jammeh…so he said they will deal with us…lot of derogatory remarks against us”.

“I know Rambo to be a lousy useless guy and he cannot do anything to me likewise Nyang Njie, but also it is not to underrate a threat because we consider his remarks to be a threat to our lives and personal security and it constitutes incitement to violence and any other overzealous member or supporter of Yahya Jammeh can pick that up to feel that he needs to harm us. Rambo is the deputy party leader of the APRC, inasmuch as you disagree with your critics you can respond to them because we have freedom of expression,” Jobarteh said.

Jobarteh said they have also written to the IEC informing them that Rambo’s comments violate the Election Act and the campaign ethics and that they should take action against him. “We also copied the inter-party committee, APRC itself and the national Human Rights Commission,” he said.

Commercial banks could access D700M to support borrowers mitigate financial burden

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By Tabora Bojang

The Monetary Policy Committee of Central Bank met yesterday to analyse the disruptive effects of Covid-19 on the Gambian economy and decided that it will take measures that will make it possible for about D700 million liquidity to be released to commercial banks across the country to support borrowers to mitigate severe economic and financial burdens brought by Covid-19.

According to Governor Bakary Jammeh, the CBG intends to achieve this by “lowering the statutory required reserve ratio from 15 per cent to 13 per cent, reducing the monetary policy rate from 12 per cent to 10 per cent and maintaining the interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 3 per cent and interest rate on standing lending facility at 1 per cent”.

Governor Jammeh said these policy decisions will boost liquidity in the market and help commercial banks with cash to lend private sector.
“Banks are highly encouraged to translate these to increased lending to the private sector and the committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to act accordingly”, the Governor said.

According to him, preliminary assessment shows that the Gambian economy will contract by 1.2 per cent in 2020 reflecting the disruptive effects of the pandemic particularly on tourism and related activities, trade, and private investment.
Further dwelling on the external sector developments, the Governor stated that the balance of payment estimates indicated that current account balance worsened to a deficit of $57 million in the first three months of 2020 from a surplus of $4.5 million in the corresponding period of 2019.

The surplus in the reserves accounts stood at $29 million in first three months of 2020 compared to $46 million in the same period last year due to decrease in income from personal travels.

Fiscal operations
“Estimates of government fiscal operations indicate that overall deficit including grants worsened from D24.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 to a deficit of D341.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.”

Revenue and grants in the first three months of 2020 decreased to D4.7 billion from D5.0 billion registered in the corresponding period 2019.
Domestic revenue increases to D4.5 billion from D3 billion in the same period last year.
Total government expenditure and net lending increased slightly to D5.2 billion compared to D5.1 billion in 2019.

Domestic debt
According to the Governor, domestic debt remains high and its stock has increased to D33.6 billion as at end of April 2020 from 32.5 billion in 2019.

Barrow appoints new Judicial Secretary

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By Omar Bah

President Adama Barrow has appointed Mrs Aisatou Jallow-Sey as the new Judicial Secretary effective 1st June, following the elevation of the former occupant, Justice Landing M Sanneh, as a Judge of the High Court.

Mrs Jallow-Sey obtained her LLB (Hon) degree from the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 1993 and the Master of Laws (LL.M) from McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 2003. She has 27 years’ experience as a legal practitioner in private practice, the state law office, international organisations, the private financial and Public sectors as well in civil society.

Mrs Jallow-Sey is currently the registrar of companies and prior to that was between 2019 and 2020 a consultant with Stigma Consulting. From 2014 to 2019, she served as a Consultant/project manager at COMESA Airspace international project at Kigali in Rwanda. She became the head of legal affairs at the Keystone Bank (Gambia) Ltd from 2013 to 2014.

Prior to that, she was for two years between 2011 and 2013 the director of legal affairs at the Gambia competition commission.
She also served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia on part time from 2007 to 2010 and from 1998 to 2010 she was the senior legal officer at the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority. Mrs Jallow-Sey served from 1993 to 1998 as a senior state counsel at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice has directed that public court proceedings to resume since last Monday, following their suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Justice Jallow ordered that priority be given to criminal cases particularly of persons in custody and whereas the courts have no criminal cases, the focus should shift on civil work.
He also ordered that not more than three cases were to be scheduled daily and that limited number of people should attend each proceeding.

In a separate development, the Chief Justice has designated the refurbished Mile 7 Bakau premises of the Judiciary as a High Court and assigned newly appointed Judge Justice Zainabou Nguie Mboob, to preside over the cases in that court.

In a similar vein, another new judge Justice Momodou SM Jallow, has been assigned to sit at the high court annex in Bundung while Justice Landing M Sanneh will serve as the itinerant judge in the provincial high courts at Basse, Janjanbureh and Mansakonko and at Banjul high court within the Banjul Magistrate’s court premises.

Justice Jallow has also assigned that Justice Amina Saho-Ceesay and Justice Sainabou Wadda-Cisse will preside over the UNDP backed pilot virtual courts in the high court to hear bail applications using the modern Zoom platform with internet connection.

Lawyers representing applicants and those for the state and or the police and other prosecuting agencies will participate in the proceedings using the remote technology. A television will be set up at the prisons to allow the detainees to follow the hearings.
Meanwhile, ninety-six remanded prisoners whose cases are pending in various Magistrate courts across the country are expected, with the assistance of the National Legal Aid Agency in collaboration with the Gambia Bar Association, to make applications for bail for their release from custody in an attempt to decongest the prisons.