By Momodou Torp
The European Union ambassador, Attila Lajos has clarified that the EU did not promise the Gambia government a donation of 1.45 billion euros in cash the EU. “That is the overall pledge made to the Gambia by the international community. These international pledges do not mean it is cash, and nobody has promised that such an amount of cash will be brought to the Gambia. I just want to clarify this because it is a misunderstanding,” Mr. Lajos told a press conference at the Ocean Bay Hotel yesterday.
According to him, many countries in the international community promised support to the Gambia in different ways which includes budgetary support, project assistance and technical assistance, noting that he cannot speak for the international community, but the EU pledged 365 million euros grants for the Gambia which he said is the total figure of the EU development assistance from the EU member states taxpayers’ money.
“This 356 million has been programmed and contracted and those responsible for the projects are rolling out the projects for the benefit of the development of the country,” Mr. Lajos explained.
He said as for the budgetary support, it does not come in one block but in different disbursements which has started coming in to the country in the past 3 years and the rest is to be disbursed in 2020 and 2021.
He said these disbursements are based on a so-called state resilience contract which means the EU will agree with the government on certain bench marks and if those bench marks are achieved by the government, then disbursement can take place.
“This is very important because it shows that it is the Gambia government that takes the development of the country further and seriously because they are acting on their own, but what we wanted to ensure is that we want to demonstrate in such a situation like in 2017 the Gambia was at the age of bankruptcy.
“When the new government came in to power, we want to make sure that the country did not collapse just because of the bad management of the country by the previous regime,” he added.
Security Sector Reform
Lajos urged the Gambia to appoint capable figures in the security sector, giving as an example the new defense and interior ministers whom he believes will bring in some dynamism to the process adding that beyond that, the national security sector reform strategy is progressing well.
“If these processes are tangible with good follow ups, I see good chances for gaining dynamism in the SSR. We believe the progress in the SSR influences the stay of the ECOMIG forces in the country and we will have to make sure that this is our recommendation to the government that both the decisions in rationalizing in the SSR are made during the period when the ECOMIG forces are here,” he concluded.