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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Inadvertent use of statistics and revenue collection

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Dear Editor,

A recent publication of some kind of flyer info providing a skyrocket collection of revenue by GRA between the period 2016 and 2023 seems to be exposing some basic flaws in the management of the national coffers. The collection performance is indeed impressive on the part of the institution responsible for taxes – GRA. Thumbs up for such a feat under a persistent pressure to meet ever-increasing revenue targets. However, there are two sides of a coin. On the part of the government, the figure of a 19% annual growth of revenue over a period of seven years raises several questions in the light of the state of the economy. Basically, for the average Gambian, development is all about the cost of living and the standard of living. The former should be reasonably affordable and the latter should also be reasonably improving over the years. With such an impressive performance of revenue collection, the question is how has it impacted these two fundamental criteria of development for the average Gambian? In other words, it is not so much on how much revenue has been collected but how that revenue has been spent and managed. Perhaps, one should recall the debate on the preceding government budgets that were presented to the National Assembly over the same period. Concern has been persistently raised over the relevance of allocations under these budgets and the ever-increasing spending spree on non-productive sectors of the economy. Considering the fact that the rate of poverty is on the increase at 53%, food inflation is over 20%, the quality of education reflecting a high rate of failures at school leaving certificate level, the state of the health infrastructure a cause of concern especially for the expecting mothers, the cost of energy covertly and perpetually going up, strategic national assets being recycled, sold off or under concession, are these statistics on revenue collection exposing the misuse and/or mismanagement of funds or a display of a profile of the spending priorities of a government? Where has all that money gone to – for the payment of debts and supporting a bloated recurrent expenditure budget in support of the lifestyle of the government? A bland display of statistics on revenue collection without any supporting info on expenditure can be an inadvertent way of exposing severe shortcomings in expenditure management. Economic development in the context of cost and standard of living is above all most important than revenue growth. It is the quality of expenses that matters most to the average citizen than the quantity of revenue.

Lamino Lang Comma

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Brikama

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