By Omar Bah
The PDOIS leader and presidential candidate, Halifa Sallah has outlined a comprehensive plan on how his party intends to save The Gambia from its massive D77.4 billion debt burden.
Sallah said the country’s current D77.4 billion massive debt burden means that even the new born children carry a debt burden of D38, 000.
To address the challenge, Sallah said PDOIS has crafted a robust plan that includes creating “a cooperative bank out of the sovereign wealth of the land that will be able to purchase fishing trawlers in our coffers and earn more foreign exchange”.
“We will engage in import substitution – we have indicated very clearly that we spend D4 billion in terms of importation of rice despite having all the land to be able to cultivate – lacking only the resources to be able to do that when we have money in our coffers which we can send back to the farming community to give them enough fertilizer, seeds and farming implements they need to produce abundant rice and therefore live D4 billion in our hands rather than leaving the country in terms of foreign exchange,” he told journalists yesterday.
He said PDOIS will introduce an import substitution plan that will save the D4 billion spent on rice every year.
“Look at the tourism sector for instance, almost 300, 000 tourists are capable of coming to the country. We have a program where each tourist before you leave your land we will tell you about the poverty of our people. Those people who are going there to sell the country will not only be selling sand, beaches and the sun – they will be selling humanity – they will be telling those people what they can add to our country that is of value.
“That is even if they spend $100 or Euros that goes directly to our people, it would be able to help our people to start making profit that will help them to venture into poultry and all those things that constitute our national heritage and the cooperative bank will sponsor them to produce that in accordance with the expectations of the tourists that are coming. So that there will not be a vacuum in marketing their products – everything will be tied to the strategy of promoting a calculated D1.5 billion that will go into the hands of our people on an annual basis,” he said.
Development, Mr Sallah added, “is about knowledge – it is a science and not about imitation. You have to look at all the potentials of a country and craft on the basis of what is scientifically possible then you achieve your goal”.
The veteran politician also expressed his party’s commitment to preserve the sovereign territorial integrity of the continent.
“This party is a party that aims for the unification of the continent and maintain the heritage that Lumumba, Nkrumah and Amical Cabral had bequeathed to us. It is our duty to defend the territorial integrity of this continent to ever liberate our people from the suffering they have been tracked for centuries,” he added.
Responding to a question about the fact that Gambians weren’t appreciating PDOIS’ message, Sallah said: “You don’t want to hear our achievement. That is the problem of the country. It’s not that PDOIS has not had impact but people refuse to recognize the impact and give the impression that PDOIS has not been having impact. But when they need something, they come to us so that they can achieve it. Yet they say nobody listens to us.”