By Tabora Bojang
The National Assembly is convening an extraordinary session Thursday to consider a government emergency proposal to increase salaries for civil servants as part of the revised 2022 budget.
The government announced last year it will introduce a new grading system and pay scale with a significant upward revision of salaries to commensurate with increasing cost of living starting this July.
But there have been mounting fears in the civil service that the increment will not go as planned because there were no funds allocated for it and with days to go before salaries are paid by the government, civil servants are yet to be notified how much will be added on their salaries if any.
According to documents seen by The Standard, the issue to be tabled by Minister of Finance Seedy Keita, will propose D923,085.000 to be slashed from the approved 2022 budget to meet the demand for the increment.
The approved budget for 2022 is D23, 692,227 but according to the new government proposal, it will be slashed to D22,769,142 with the remaining D923,085.000 to cover the salary increment.
The revision will see minor slashes in the previous budgets of the following ministries and agencies with variations; National Assembly -16.8 percent, Judiciary -28.2 percent, Public Service Commission -9.3 percent, National Audit Office -34.2 percent, Ministry of Tourism -7.7 percent, Ministry of Justice -6.2 percent, Ministry of Finance -14.9 percent, Office of the Ombudsman -2.3 percent, Centralised Services -23.5 percent, Ministry of Lands -34.6 percent, Ministry of Agriculture -0.5 percent, Ministry of Trade -13.9 percent, Ministry of Youth and Sports -15.0 percent, Ministry of Environment -5.3 percent, Ministry of Information -65.6 percent, Ministry of Fisheries -29.3 percent, Ministry of Higher Education -8.1 percent, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy -27.7 percent, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare-9.5 percent, National Human Rights Commission -1.7 percent and National Debt Service -7.8 percent.
Curiously, there will be slight increases in overall budget for the following; Office of the President 12.3 percent, IEC 1.3 percent, Ministry of Defence 8.4 percent, Ministry of the Interior 11.7 percent, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 6.5 percent, Ministry of Transport 1.0 percent and Ministry of Health 6.6 percent.
Furthermore, D52,830.000 is proposed for the newly created Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy while D134, 663.000 for Ministry of Public Service, Admin Reforms and Policy Coordination.
While lawmakers expected to back and green light the proposed revision, it remains unclear whether the approval will be made in time for the increment to take effect this July.
Parliamentary sources informed The Standard that the government will likely delay this month’s salary payment to allow the National Assembly to pass the revised budget so that civil servants get enhanced pay.
Meanwhile, the finance minister will also table a loan agreement between Gambia, the Kuwaiti Fund and the Arab Development Bank to finance the roads construction of the Bertil Harding Highway.