By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia government has proposed a D3 million honorarium to officers of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency for the mass seizure of nearly three tons of cocaine at the Banjul ports in January.
The 118 bags of cocaine worth over D4 billion allegedly belonging to one Banta Keita, a French-Gambian were discovered during a search of a container shipped from Ecuador through Spain to The Gambia.
Mr. Keita who evaded arrest and reportedly fled the country after the drugs were seized, is still nowhere to be found while his co-accused Sheriff Njie is standing trial on criminal charges.
Finance Minister Mambury Njie will appear before lawmakers today to seek approval for an additional one billion seven hundred and sixty-seven million four hundred thousand dalasi [D1.767, 400, 000] supplementary estimates to meet the country’s budgetary demands for 2021.
According to the contents of the bill seen by The Standard, the allocation for the Ministry of Interior totals D45 million which includes D3 million honorarium for personnel of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency commonly known as Drug Squad on the recent drug seizures.
Government said the honorarium is expected to boost the morale of the anti-narcotics agents who play a vital role in the fight against illicit drugs.
The D45 million allocation for the Ministry will also see DLEAG’s monthly subsidy increased from D9 million to D12.5 million.
D30M GRTS election coverage
Meanwhile, it has also been proposed that the Gambia Radio and Television Services, GRTS, be given D30M for the coverage of the presidential election.
The allocation is made through the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Vehicles for regional governors
The government also proposed an additional allocation of D12.5 million for the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government for the purchase of vehicles for all the regional governors in the country. The Gambia has 5 governors.
The rest of the allocation is for the Ministry of Health [D134 million] earmarked for the purchase of 80 life support ambulances to be distributed across all the major health centers, while D75 million is allocated under the Centralized Services for contingency security operations by the Police, Army, Immigration and DLEAG.
The Ministry of Works, which has the highest allocation, will be given D120 million for the payment of arrears owed to the contractor of the Banjul Rehabilitation Project, D408.9 million for land compensation under the OIC project, D64 million for the payment of arrears owed to Arezki for the construction of toll facilities at the Senegambia Bridge, D510 million for payment of arrears owed to the contractor for the construction of Basse-Yorobawol road and the Kaleng-Bushtown road and D25 million allocation for a bailout to cover some operations of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority.
All the allocations take effect if the bill is approved by lawmakers today.
However, a former director of budget and member of the opposition UDP Momodou Sabally, last week asked NAMs not to approve the proposed supplementary bill calling it a “deliberate attempt” by the Barrow administration to “unjustifiably” use the national treasury to fund white elephant projects aimed at deceiving Gambians in an election year.