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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Letters to the Editor

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Proposed SAB will slaughter the already broken economy;

Letter to the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs

Dear editor,

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I wish to seize this opportunity to congratulate the World Bank through your ministry for the establishment of their first-ever operational office in the country. I am without doubt that this newest development will go a long way in strengthening the partnership between the Gambia and World Bank as critical associates in development.

Honourable Minister, I wish to write this letter with utter dismay and dissatisfaction about the proposed Supplementary Appropriation Bill which will be championed by your ministry as per your role in the cabinet. Sir, I wish to remind you that the country’s debt burden currently stands at 77 billion dalasi which is exorbitant and detrimental to our growth as a nation. We can’t grow and prosper as a nation if we can’t enhance and support the buying powers of average countrymen.

The current debt burden is worrying and will be even more disastrous if you want to amass another loan to support the SAB as this may increase the inflation to a double-figure and the harm can’t be underestimated.

Since you assumed office Honorable Minister, all your actions in terms of financial management and best economic practices had certainly proven to be inefficient, counterproductive coupled with a lack of transparency and accountability to the populace who have higher hope on the government you are serving in changing their livelihoods. Your appetite for loan acquisition is overwhelming despite advice from experts; you defiantly continue to obtain such to sponsor the egocentric politically motivated projects of President Barrow at the expense of the taxpayers.

Sir, this attitude has frustrated ordinary Gambians as it can be best interpreted of you choosing Barrow over the average Gambians who brought him into power. Two years ago, you unprofessionally increased the tax of the only drink production company in the name of Banjul Breweries without any ethical consideration. This barbaric action of you leads to the closure of the company.

According to the World Bank amid a critical partner to Gambia’s development advice emerging economy countries from tax increment of beyond 50% as it can potentially cause the economy of a State. Yet, you went ahead and callously increase the tax sending over 100 employees home thought if there is a better time for you to tender your resignation could have been that period.

Certainly, the mantle of leadership you took to head this very critical ministry hasn’t brought anything tangible social-economic development to the citizenries rather poverty, disappointment and unemployment.

In the past two budgets, you presented before the August Assembly, the highest allocation goes to the ministry of works though this allocation is neither productive nor important to Gambians. As the top priority of any responsible minister of Finance will be poverty eradication and easy access to primary health care amid the budget should be impacted on the masses positively. No wonder the President said you are a good citizen and a loyal member of his cabinet as you have shown to be more protagonist than his NPP campaign manager. 

How would you expect a minister who falls for the plights of the Gambian people to use the little revenue of the state to construct roads that won’t bring back any economic gain in the short run? 

Honourable Minister, your planned supplementary appropriation bill is a nonstarter as all the amounts you wish to allocate to different ministries are non-essential to the people rather than a way of entrenching the president to wins the December polls. We expect you to be responsible enough to indulge yourself in applying financial discipline mechanisms rather than going in for calculated ways of squandering down public funds without notice.

Over $21 million came from the International Monetary Fund through the extended credit facility to address the covid-19 situation in the country as of April 15, 2020. This money was given to the central government to contain the spread of the virus astonishingly, how was this money spent? As on the supposed SAB, you want the parliament to approve an amount of D150 million for the health ministry. This is quite delusional, as the staggering amount of $21 million was neither seen nor felt in the containment of the virus. Sir, your counterpart in Ghana on the awake of the virus, construct a covid treatment centre in the country within 90 days despite Ghana’s position, we are all described as third world countries.

Sir, if you want to make any further allocation for the health ministry, you should be in a position to explain how the IMF fund was spent and who benefitted what if you don’t want to be seen as a delusional man who lacks the foresight to promote transparency and accountability.

Sir, for you to win the hearts and minds of the Gambian people you should start implementing financial disciple and austerity measures among the government machinery and follow the contractionary fiscal policy in a way to reduce the unnecessary spending of the government as that will create a posterity for growth. The statement of the Central Bank Governor calling commercial banks to support government projects is enough for one to conclude that your government lacks the financial capacity to finance the current bankrolled road projects as the implication outweighed the benefit at this moment.

Failing to do the needful could further distress the economic status of the country. Amid the SAB will verdict the economy to death by hanging.   

Ebrima Jarra

Journalist,

BSC. Economic, Banking and Finance (candidate)

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