By Mustapha Darboe & Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has issued a directive for all cabinet ministers to declare their assets next month as he made good on one of his campaign promises, his spokeswoman Amie Bojang-Sissoho has told journalists yesterday.
Barrow made a campaign promise that his government will be completely transparent but he has recently come under heavy criticism for no keeping his words with regard to the declaration of assets by his ministers.
“To promote good governance and transparency, all ministers have been asked to declare their assets by the 15th of July,” she told journalists at her first meeting with the press.
Bojang, who held the press briefing to update the public on issues around the presidency, also informed journalists that the country’s long-serving police chief, IGP Yankuba Sonko, has been replaced by veteran police prosecutor Landing Kinteh effective June 22.
She said the former police general will be deployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and likely sent to the diplomatic service.
She said the deputy IGP, Ousman Sowe, has also been redeployed with his position taken over by police commissioner Mamour Jobe.
Bojang further informed journalists that the government has reduced the cost of a bag of fertilizer from D950 to D700 but added that the line ministries will give details on the points of sale.
She said the government has also reduced the price of hajj tickets to Mecca but added that the actual price will be communicated later.
She further revealed that the government had reached an out-of-court settlement with Golden Lead, a Chinese company which has been accused of violating environmental laws and harming the ecology at Gunjur and Kartong.
The National Environment Agency had taken the company to Brikama courts last week where they were charged with four counts of violations of environmental laws. The company denied any culpability.
“The company will remove its pipes from the sea, support a comprehensive ecological assessment and restore the damage done to the ecology,” Bojang said.
“In addition the company will pay for testing of the water to know how and why it was affected if it was.”
Ban on FGM
Female genital mutilation has come under the spotlight this week after activists complained that supporters of Barrow were engaged in the illegal practice as its ban was regarded as Jammeh’s law.
However, the spokeswoman said President Barrow was in “full support” of the FGM ban and that he had expressed his belief that the practice has been proved to have adversely affected the health of women and girls. “Whether the law was a Jammeh law or not, the law is just a law,” the former anti-FGM activist said.
She said said one of the major preoccupations of President Barrow’s administration was to ensure affordable electricity to the entire population.
She said the national energy company, Nawec, has rehabilitated three generators which have been down for over a year and they are providing an additional 18 megawatts of power at the moment.
“Nawec is also currently rehabilitating three other generators with a capacity of 21 megawatts and expected to be completed later this year and an additional 11MW generator is expected to be installed before the end of this year. Discussions are also at an advanced stage between Nawec and the Senegalese national electricity company, Senelec, for a cross-border electrification project were they will supply power to most parts of rural Gambia,” she said.
“Similar arrangements will be made for the Greater Banjul Area in due cause. In the medium term, Nawec plans to increase its [generating] capacity to 129 megawatts by 2020 through public and private partnership.”
The president’s spokeswoman said the presidency has dispatched a team to hold dialogue in Kanilai with the hope of bringing the people together. She said the death of Haruna Kujabi which resulted from a confrontation between protesters and Ecomig forces is “deeply regrettable”.
“We express our sympathy to the family of the deceased for their loss. The president has sent a delegation to the area to engage the community through reconciliation because we are all Gambians and we have the interest of our country which supersedes the interest of individuals. Kanilai is an integral part of The Gambia and the decision for Ecomig’s presence there is based on national security,” she explained.
Mrs Bojang-Sissoho, a veteran radio broadcaster, announced that such press briefings will become be regular weekly staple.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Demba Jawo, has also announced that his ministry will hold similar press conferences monthly to keep the nation up to date with activities of the government.