By Tabora Bojang
The National Assembly yesterday unanimously approved the budget estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2020 with a slight slashing in a few areas.
The initial draft budget tabled by the finance minister Mambury Njie totaled D22.9 billion but it has now been trimmed with budgets of the Office of the President and ministry of higher education among those affected by the cuts.
The approved total appropriation bill for the new budget stands at D21, 285. 596. 894. 00 billion. This falls short of last year’s D25. 28 billion approved by lawmakers.
The budget for the Office of the President that was a subject of controversy among lawmakers was trimmed from D692.3 million to D691.2 million.
The ministries of education, health, foreign affairs, and interior stand out as the highest sectors in terms of allocation with each receiving over D1 billion.
The lowest budget allocation goes to the ministries of tourism, information and communication, fisheries, energy and women and children’s affairs, each less than D80 million.
The ministries of environment and justice each has over D200 million; trade and industry are allocated over D106.5 million.
The ministries of agriculture and transport each has over D400 million.
However, as a result of mounting debt stock the total amount allocated to the National Debt Service constitutes over 40% of the total budget with D7.731. 390.580.
Speaking to The Standard, finance minister Njie said the revelations and allocations of the budget are pro-poor and put strong emphasis on measures aimed at addressing challenges affecting Gambians including access to water, health and electricity.
Njie said he is not disappointed with the trimming of the budget, adding that it demonstrates a cordial working relationship between the executive and the legislature.