By Omar Bah
In his State of the Nation Address yesterday, President Adama Barrow appealed to National Assembly members to take advantage of their diverse composition to usher in a new era in Gambian politics and avoid allowing party interest to overshadow their performance.
The speech, which was delivered in a crowded National Assembly, continued: “The people’s expectations are high, so you must not allow party interests to overshadow your tenure and performance. In whatever you do, let the interest of the nation come first and also, to deliver, it is imperative that you work along bi-partisan lines to fulfil the people’s aspirations and safeguard the honour of those who chose you to represent them.”
The president told the NAMs that apart from being legislators, they also have the ambassadorial role of representing the nation at international forums and holding meetings with foreign dignitaries and philanthropists which he said creates opportunities for them to promote national policies and plans and raise funds for national development.
The address also highlighted government’s performance, derived from the performance of its formal national institution sector by sector, based on major public programmes and projects, legislative issues relevant to the functions of the National Assembly, matters of national significance, and proposed interventions.
On the economy, the president said despite the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, growth rebounded to 4.5 percent in 2021 and though this growth remained below the pre-pandemic levels, it was still significant.
“In 2022, the economy could have been well into recovery, with expectations of improved economic performance, increased grant inflows, and private remittances but unfortunately, it took a different trend, as economies across the globe grapple with the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Consequently, in June, the Government projected a more modest growth of 3.6 percent for 2022,” Barrow said.
He further disclosed that revenue collection for the first two months of 2022 declined by 14 percent, against the same period in 2021, prompting the government to resolved to formulating robust policies that would set up buffers against shocks and enhance domestic revenue mobilisation.
“Notwithstanding the challenges, the fourth review of the Extended Credit Facility with the IMF was successfully completed in December 2021. We remain committed to sound economic policy management, as detailed in the Medium Term Economic Fiscal Framework (2022-2026) which is to improve macro-fiscal stability.,” he said.
The president said The Gambia was among 44 countries that presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals during the High-Level Political Forum held in New York in July 2022.
“The Reviews facilitate the sharing of experiences and partners commended The Gambia for the inclusive and participatory nature of its VNR and the policies and strategies being implemented to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda,” he said.
The president announced that the country’s total debt service payment in 2021 was D5.01 billion of which D 1.9 billion was External Debt Service payment and D3.1 billion was Domestic Debt Service payment.
“The debt service payment increased by 11.1 percent from D 4.5 billion in 2020 to D 5 billion in 2021. There was no Debt Service Suspension Initiative receipt, compared to the preceding year,” he noted.
He said the Cabinet has approved the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Bill for tabling.
“In response to disasters, government supported 1,952 households affected by windstorms, each receiving GMD7, 500 monthly for three months. In view of the COVID pandemic, my administration distributed rice countrywide through NDMA. Furthermore, it disbursed GMD450,000 for rice, oil, sugar, mattresses, and other essential items to support 1,161 Senegalese affected by the Sanyang riot,” President Barrow said.
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