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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Letters to the Editor

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Gambia: Something must be going right

Dear editor,

As Ghanaian president delivered one of the most revered speeches in that Nelson Mandela hall in the UK about the IMF-imposed Economic model on African country that buried these countries in debt, our excitement in that ‘truth’ delivery tends to have us excuse poor management of these loans and grants, and most importantly the national resources where they exist.

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The [Central] Bank of Ghana reported that the country’s public debt by January 2018 was 142.5 billion cedis representing 70% of her GDP. Forget you not, that Ghana has natural resources such as gold, bauxite, limestone, industrial diamonds with gold and bauxite accounting for over 60% of their primary exports, per The Business Report.


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So Ghana are a bigger and more stable economy than the Gambia. Notwithstanding, Ghana’s Cocobod signed $1.3 billion loan to fund their purchases, and $10.4 billion concessionary loan agreement with China’s exim Bank for her infrastructural development.


I’m saying this to say that inasmuch as it’s preferred and ideal for nations to build their productive bases towards ‘self reliance’, several factors exist that make this quite hard. In the case of the Gambia, we cry that 50+ years since we’re dependent on assistance [loans and grants] making us a beggar Nation forgetting that Agriculture and Tourism have been our main income generating ‘resources’. We know how much that has gotten us. Many that I’ve read and heard belabor this point, stop short of telling us how precisely do we attain self reliance on our own [productive] feet without assistance, considering ‘what we have’. It’s easier to tell Miskeen not to accept Zakat from a giver than help him become the giver.


As we wobble out of the mess that we halted in December 2016, the Gambia MUST seek assistance to first stabilise before working on anything we consider best to reduce our dependence on Loans and Grants. This became evident as we saw amazing assistance from EU [mainly] for budgetary support, the fiscal and monetary discipline that helped economic stability with about 5.4% growth projection in 2018. And if the Govt were savvy and effective enough in their communication and messaging, this is the most tangible achievement of the Barrow administration thus far that could bask him – Stabilising Economy.


Something must be going well, to have development partners continue to help our journey. The Govt put forward a National Development Plan that they sold their partners that I personally believe is very very good, especially if implemented as planned. Those who read the document would concede to the Govt being very ambitious in coming up with that, especially considering ‘there are no funds’. They laid out how they intend to secure funds, among these ‘seeking support from partners’. That is why the President and team are in Belgium NOT to beg but sell their programs in exchange for assistance.


Donor Conferences are pretty common. Troubled countries all over, do it all the time. Pledges are going to be made, assistance rendered. Funds raised from these exercises can only help us. The initial $140 million grant announced by the EU yesterday for the implementation of the NDP adds NOTHING to the already crazy public debt. So there’s no shame or hurt in that. That’s some secured assistance you and I need not worry about paying back.


When it comes to the Gambia, my glass has always been half full. I’m not oblivious to the surmountable challenges of the administration, but I refuse to be a cynic. We’re on the right track as a Country even when the train is snailing. Evidently, those who measure these progresses believe so too. Thus the meeting in Brussels. Otherwise they’re NOT obligated to give their money to Gambia if they believe President Barrow PORG is pocketing it. So I trust THEM more than I do YOU.


Pata J Saidykhan

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