The country’s domestic debt alone, as at end-December 2014, stood at 18.7 billion dalasis – a 38 per cent rise from a year earlier and the IMF says it is considering a bailout for the country.
In reaction, Jatta, who is also a National Assembly Member for Serrekunda East, said: “Well, we have our own debt problems, but lots of countries are indebted in Africa and some of them are worse than us. You find debt problems even in some Western countries.”
Hon. Jatta, a ruling party heavyweight, said his party had inherited billions of dalasis of loan from the former PPP government.
He explained: “Part of the loans that we are paying is the whole PPP loans that they have taken all throughout their lives. If you go to the 1993 revenue estimates in the archives, you will see the billions of dalasi loans that we [APRC] inherited.
“When you look at the resources of the state, almost 47 per cent of the tax collected goes to salaries and the inherited loans from the PPP and the loans we [APRC] took ourselves – another huge chunk goes to debt servicing and the day-to-day running cost of the government. Now, how much is left to invest on development? So what one can do is to take loans and prepare the relevant development programmes and policies to effectively and judiciously invest the money.”
Defends ban on gambling
Jatta further defended government’s recent ban on all forms of gambling, frowning upon the participation of particularly children and women.
“I support the ban because I believe in Islam and Islam bars all forms of gambling,” he told The Standard, adding, “Even Christianity does not support gambling.
“Gambling is very destructive. In some other places, it triggers violence. Some people lose all their money in it. Gambling is such that no responsible government will let it go on. It cannot be regulated, it should be banned. You see women playing games with monies given to them for the family’s fish money and school boys going to gaming stations with their lunch money or school fees. We are working on making The Gambia a middle income country and this cannot be achieved if children who are to be future leaders are not going to school.”
Barely two weeks following the government’s decision to ban gambling, Omar Jallow of the opposition PPP party criticised the move as a “bad economic decision” adding that the ban will leave over three thousand people jobless.
However, FTJ believes OJ’s view does not hold water.
He said: “Should we allow gambling because of the people employed in the sector? Then are we going to allow heroine trade, cannabis or cocaine? These trades can make you a millionaire over night. The society has passed that stage because in as much as gambling maybe rewarding, the negative impact on the society is by far higher.”]]>