By Fatou Saho
The National Assembly Member for Latrikunda has advised President Barrow not to increase taxes, saying his government already made The Gambia poorer than Dawda Kairaba Jawara and Yahya Jammeh combined.
Setting the ball rolling for his meet the people tour in Nuimi on Tuesday, President Barrow said his government will decrease dependence on foreign aid by increasing taxes on certain services such as passports, hospital consultations among others.
However, in an open letter to the president shared with The Standard, Yahya Sanyang addressed the president: “Your government’s failure to address the fundamental issues plaguing our nation has left many Gambians suffering, hopeless and dying in the deep sea. Your government through the ministry of finance have just introduced another very bad budget for the year 2024.The economy remains stagnant, with unemployment rates soaring and inflation eroding the purchasing power of the average Gambian, especially the rural people who voted massively in all elections. The cost of living has skyrocketed, rendering basic necessities like food, cash power and shelter increasingly unaffordable. Yet, your government’s response has been woefully inadequate, offering little solace to the struggling masses. To add salt to injury you stood proudly during your meet the people tour and told Gambians you will increase the cost of living, health care services and increase the taxes. I will advise you to decrease the budget allocated to the office of the president which is over a billion dalasi than increasing the tax and health care of the poor masses. The healthcare system has crumbled under the weight of neglect and mismanagement. Hospitals lack essential supplies and equipment, while trained medical personnel are in short supply and instead of your government providing equipment to hospitals you presented over 60 million dalasi for the overseas treatment of senior civil servants whilst the poor use our inadequate poor health services. The proposed increase in healthcare costs will only further burden an already overburdened population, leaving many without access to even the most basic medical care.”
He added: “Mr President let me put to your attention that rising cost of food, fuel, and other essential goods and services has made it increasingly difficult for Gambians to make ends meet. The prices of basic food items, such as rice, bread, and oil, have been steadily increasing, making it harder for families to afford adequate nutrition. Transportation costs have also risen, further straining household budgets. Your governments reckless measures to implement various tax increases in recent years, aimed at generating revenue to support your misguided development agenda have placed an additional burden on poor Gambian taxpayers, particularly the rural people. The combined effects of rising costs of living, increased taxation, and escalating healthcare costs have had a detrimental impact on the well-being of Gambians. These economic pressures have led to decreased purchasing power. It is so sad to state that Gambians ability to purchase essential goods and services has diminished, leading to reduced consumption and a decline in living standards. The rising costs have disproportionately affected low-income households, pushing more people into poverty. Since you came to power you have created more poverty in The Gambia than Jawara and Jammeh combined all due to your lack of proper leadership, foresight and sound policies.”