By Omar Bah
Former vice president and head of the Gambia For All (GFA) party, Bakary Bunja Dabo, has urged the government to address the mismanagement of public funds by cutting down on unnecessary expenditures, such as the number of people appointed to the country’s foreign embassies.
Addressing a national dialogue between the country’s political party leaders and President Adama Barrow at State House yesterday, Mr Dabo commended the president for initiating the dialogue but insisted on the need for it to put emphasis on addressing the government’s mismanagement of public funds.
“I am delighted that the management of public resources is considered. This is not to say the other topics are not important, but there is a particular urgency, in our opinion, to reflect on the management of resources, not only as a democratic requirement, but because equitable and effective management of resources goes to the heart of governance and democratic systems. Secondly, ours is a situation of dire resource constraints amid increasing needs for our people, therefore, how we manage those resources is very critical,” he stated.
He said the manner in which resources are also budgeted needed to be improved.
“The civil service and the public service are obviously overloaded. Just look at our foreign missions; they are overloaded with ambassadors, deputy ambassadors, and so many others, which are really not necessary at all, and these are very expensive indices in the use of public resources…” he added.
He said this is not the observation of GFA alone. “If you follow public debates and the mood in the country, there is a lot of concern about the number of things going on that affect the management of our resources,” Dabo who was also a finance minister and initiated the anti-corruption drive in the latter years of the Jawara regime, stated.
“Since the 2016 change, there were expectations that there would be an effective move away from the scourge of corruption, but what we are seeing in terms of what was revealed by the inquiries that have been carried out as well as the periodic audits, is that corruption is a continuous problem and a major threat to the effective management of our resources. The other thing I would want to highlight is the question of political will with regard to accountability, especially when it comes to the implementation of recommendations that arise from audits and other probes. This is of serious concern to us,” he said.
Commenting on the Janneh Commission, Mr Dabo said the inquiry’s scope was “unfortunately limited” to President Jammeh and his close associates, and it will be difficult to make “us believe that the mismanagement that had gone on for 22 years was limited to what Jammeh and his close associates did”.
He said a thorough probe into what had happened would have given a better signal to ensure accountability.
“That apart, even the little outcome that we got from those inquiries was not implemented as recommended, which is worrying for an economy like ours. I think this should be looked at very seriously,” he added.