By Momodou Darboe
The Gambia government’s plan to shut down two diplomatic missions in Asia and Africa has suffered yet another setback.
The government has been working on closing down the Gambian missions in Malaysia and Algeria before this month but according to finance minister Mambury Njie, the plans have been obstructed by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The finance minister said the government has now agreed to extend the operations of the embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Algiers but at the cost of D50 million.
He did not however say when exactly the missions would wind up their operations.
“We have streamlined our embassies in Algeria and Malaysia,” Finance minister Njie announced on Thursday at the National Assembly in Banjul as he submitted for consideration and approval by the legislature the Supplementary Appropriation Bill for fiscal year 2020.
He added: “These two missions [Algeria and Malaysia] were expected to wind down their operations by the first half of this year. However, due to the global pandemic that has seriously impacted international movement, we have to extend the time given to them.”
He told deputies that government intends to spend D50 million for the maintenance of the two missions as well as the repatriation of Gambian diplomatic staff and their families from the two countries.
Meanwhile, government has this year recalled several diplomatic staff and while it said the reason was to downsize the diplomatic service for effectiveness in operational costs, critics said some of the recallings are hunts for diplomats suspected of leaning towards the UDP.