By Olimatou Coker
President Adama Barrow has urged all institutions of the government, stakeholders and development partners to redouble efforts to make diaspora voting a reality.
The president made this call in a speech delivered on his behalf by Badara Joof, minister of higher education during the fifth Stake of the Nation Forum (SNF5) held over the weekend. The event is organized by Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia, MSDG, in collaboration with GK.
“At the first edition of this forum on 13 January 2018, I stated that we must be vigilant for the opportunity of infrastructure-led development and the opportunity of diaspora-development. As is to be expected, the diaspora contributed time, resources, and ideas to the work and campaigns of the different political parties and groupings in the presidential election. However, the fact remains that they were not able to vote and be more engaged in the festival of democracy witnessed as a nation,” the president said.
He praised the technical collaboration between the MSDG project and the Independent Electoral Commission and the contribution of other stakeholders on the issue of diaspora voting. “With humility and purposefulness, I urge all institutions of government and state and all stakeholders and development partners to redouble efforts to make diaspora voting a reality”, he appealed.
Barrow promised to maintain, expand and enhance Gambia’s infrastructure-led development programme.
“In many instances, our shortcomings are not due to the absence of good politics and plans, but the absence of effective implementation. The need for operational effectiveness is of paramount importance for all ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as the state-owned enterprises as every Gambian is touched directly or indirectly by the contributions of the diaspora, whatever their income, be it little, or large they share with their families and communities in The Gambia,” the president said.
Mambury Njie, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, thanked the MSDG project team for the tremendous work done over the years to attract diaspora investment in The Gambia through the championing of the diaspora bond.
“Our ministry continues to partner with the GK partners through the MSDG project on mainstreaming diaspora finance and introducing innovative financial products to attract diaspora investment”.
Njie said as part of efforts to streamline diaspora bond in their financing strategies, the debt management directorate has prepared a medium-term debt management strategy (2022-2026) that incorporate issuing a diaspora bond for infrastructure financing.
Also speaking, Seeku Jaabi, deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Gambia, said despite the challenges of the coronavirus, diaspora Gambians have not relented in supporting their families and enhancing the development aspirations of their motherland.
“In 2018 the total, remittance reach 277M and that’s 18% growth in 2019, in 2019 it reaches 328M Dollars this is 31% of our GDP in 2020 despite the Covid it reaches 589M dollars forming 47% of our GDP and in 2021 the remittance volumes increased to an unprecedented level of $774.6M from January to December, forming 62.9% of our GDP. The 2021 remittance volume is equivalent to GMD 40,65billion, which represents 69.9% of GDP. He also said the CBG is further working on remittances with partners to disaggregate the data into building and construction, consumption, education, health, agriculture among others to inform policy on the use of remittances.