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By Omar Bah

The Secretary General of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism has said the country cannot eradicate poverty as a tax-based economy.

Addressing journalists at a press conference Tuesday marking Republic Day, 24 April, Halifa Sallah explained that “we cannot eradicate poverty by sharing the little wealth we have.”

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“We are saying if you take D115 billion and you want to divide it among 2.7 million people, everybody will continue to live in poverty. That is why you have a tax-based economy to provide services,” he said.

Sallah said the state must be productive instead just administering and managing because if that continues the country will continue to be a tax-based economy and never be able to eradicate poverty.

“We must understand that if we are not mature in thinking and do not create awareness, we will continue to be among the least developed and voiceless countries. That is why we have emphasised that the national wealth should be kept in a corporative bank and provided to the farmers to purchase fertiliser and farming instruments for us to be self-sufficient in food. We should support small, medium-sized enterprises that aim to process our produce for agro-industrial processing of minor scale with appropriate technology that would put many young people into work. It will enable people to be productive. That is what the republic is demanding,” he said.

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He said PDOIS is committed to ensuring that the resources that come from the country’s land and sea go back to the people to eradicate poverty.

Mr Sallah said a PDOIS government will ensure that the private sector is part of an investment portfolio of the Central Bank where funds will be given to those who engage in private sector production where national duty prevails over profit.

“They will create employment and save our youth from alienation,” he said.

He said a PDOIS government will transform the country’s security forces into a working force that will be engaged in providing security and playing an active role in the productive sector.

“If we want a new Gambia, we must ensure that we have the right mentality and mindset that would enable us to live together as one people and to select our leaders on the basis of informed choice,” he added.

Importance of 24 April

Sallah said a PDOIS government will ensure 24 April is celebrated as the genuine day of Gambia’s liberation as it is not an ordinary day.

“When the shackles that tied us to the coloniser were broken on April 24, The Gambia and the Gambian people exercised their right to sovereignty. On that day, no single Gambian leader or citizen owed any allegiance, obedience, or adherence to any foreign power or state. This is why this day should be commemorated, because it is the day that each of us became free. Each Gambian became an owner of power. That is what freedom means,” he said.

He added: “As we commemorate this day without any state celebration or fanfare, every single Gambian ought to ask the fundamental question, where are we? How are we able to carve a path for a better Gambia? That is why we are having this conversation with you today. By now, each of us should know our place in this nation and the place of our country in Africa and the world.”

The veteran politician added that when the PDOIS came into being in every document that it had, it affirmed its slogan of ‘know yourself, know your country, and know the world to become the architect of your own destiny’.

He said the essence of fighting colonialism was to create a united people.

“Are we a united people? We are told we are the owners of the Gambia, but for 54 years, the leaders of this country has not made it their prime duty to tell us what we own. We are yet to define our borders, and that is why you still have the shoot to kill practice. It is that territory with its land that should generate our sovereign national wealth,” he said.

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