By Omar Bah
Former Majority leader of the National Assembly and member for Kombo South, Kebba K Barrow has asked the government to fast-track the implementation of the vehicle policy.
The vehicle policy was designed to save the government from expending monies on buying vehicles for civil servants but instead give loans to them to buy their own vehicles, saving the government from buying fuel and spending on maintenance.
The government expended around D239, 748, 944 million on vehicle maintenance alone in 2017. As of December 2019, as per the vehicle control records, the government has a total number of 925 vehicles of which 12% are project vehicles while 88% comprises VIP and regular/pool users. But to address these challenges, the first finance minister of President Adama Barrow, Amadou Sanneh, introduced a cost-saving vehicle policy which was later passed by the National Assembly. However, according to Mr Sanneh the policy could not be implemented because State House blocked it at the implementation stage.
Speaking on the matter during the parliamentary debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address yesterday, Kebba K Barrow said he was disappointed that the president didn’t mention anything about the vehicle policy.
He said the government should as a matter of urgency start the implementation of the policy.
“The vehicle policy was passed into law by the National Assembly and the government was required to implement it. We want to know what is the stage of its implementation because the former finance minister (Mambury Njie) has informed us that the government is reviewing it and that if that is done, he will come and report to the Assembly but that has not happened,” he said. Honourable Barrow further argued that the over D300 million that the government spent on purchasing and maintaining the vehicles could have been expended in other areas.
“But the government continues to allocate funds for the purchase of vehicles and maintenance but Honourable Speaker, looking at the condition of the country and the economic downside that is happening around the world, there is urgent need for this vehicle policy to come back so that the D300 million will be utilised into other areas,” Mr Barrow said.
He advised that in the future the National Assembly should attempt to convince the president to appear before the lawmakers after reading his State of the Nation Address to respond to their concerns and questions.
“Since the times of former president Jammeh presidents have always delegated their vice presidents to attend the parliamentary debate on the State of the Nation Address. But we want to have the opportunity to face the president at least once,” he said.
Honourable Barrow had earlier raised concerns about the zero presence of ministers at the debate when it started but a few minutes later the ministers started pouring into the Assembly chambers as if they were called.
He criticised the government’s lack of strategic direction in their State of the Nation Address.
“Water and electricity supply also remains a very big challenge,” he said.
KK Barrow further said government should prioritise fighting against corruption while challenging the Minister of Youth and Sports Bakary Badjie to resign. “He should resign for attempting to defraud the country of thousands of dalasis of the taxpayers’ money,” the MP said.