By Omar Bah
The Government of The Gambia has lifted the temporary travel restrictions on all government funded trips including non-subvented agencies, state-owned enterprises and Central Bank of the Gambia, government spokesperson, Ebrima Sankareh confirmed to The Standard yesterday.
“The Ministry of Finance has confirmed to me that the ban has been suspended,” Sankareh said.
Meanwhile, speaking to this paper on the matter, an independent economist who prefers anonymity said even if the ban is lifted the misuse of government and project-funded vehicles which are costing taxpayers millions of dalasi and should be fully implemented with immediate effect.
In 2017, the National Assembly passed the Vehicle Policy which was endorsed by cabinet but it has not been implemented.
“The abuse of fuel coupons and the misappropriation of government vehicles for private use are so rampant and the massive amount of taxpayers’ money spent on purchasing these vehicles are being wasted at the expense of providing essential services,” he added.
On 1 October 2018, the government through the Finance Ministry imposed temporary travel restrictions on all government-funded trips except for essential statutory meetings.
The travel restriction was necessitated by the overall fiscal slippages on travels and to ensure expenses are within the overall expenditure of the 2018 budget as approved by the National Assembly and as well as to free-up spending for social services such as education, health and to engender economic growth and macroeconomic stability, Finance minister, Mambury Njie said at the time.
The minister’s announcement came after the hue and cry following revelations at the National Assembly that the government spent almost a quarter billion dalasis on travels and per diems in just the first half of 2018.