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City of Banjul
Friday, October 30, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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The Supplementary Bill: What next for Gambia’s economy? Retrogressive or progressive? Dear editor, The contentious Supplementary Bill presented by the Gambia’s Finance and Economic Affairs minister, Mambury Njie has been approved by Deputies at the National Assembly in Banjul late Thursday evening. The Bill, which is over 500 million dalasis is purposely meant to cover the government’s expenses for the fiscal year 2018. Parliament rejected the initial Supplementary Bill of One Billion dalasis last week, forcing the Barrow Administration to revise the Budget and cutting up half the initial cost. Atleast, 16 Parliamentarians rejected the revised Budget tabled by Minister Njie, leaving Lawmakers at a deadlock which was broken by a vote from Speaker of the House Mariam Jack-Denton in favour of the Bill. Gambia has surpassed its threshold for Domestic Borrowing. The World Bank has pinned the country’s net Domestic Borrowing at about 400 million dalasis but Thursday’s vote with already existing huge domestic borrowing, the country’s unserviceable local debt has surpassed D2BN, changing the economic trajectory downwards. Thursday’s Parliamentary approval of the supplementary budget has put the nearly insolvent country’s fiscal discipline out of compliance with IMF and World Bank guidelines. This has raised concerns that it will increase the rates of Treasury Bills at the country’s reserve bank to keep the economy afloat and likely to increase interest rates at banks due to high government borrowing which will affect local businesses from securing low interest loans. Gambia is very dependent on foreign aid and development partners but has not received any budget support this year, except for US$7million which was secured by then Finance minister Amadou Sanneh from the African Development Bank (ADB). President Adama Barrow has placed high hopes on some US$1.7BN pledged by European nations to his Administration for his National Development Plan (NDP). Mr Barrow has used the pledges which are yet to be delivered, to drum up political support for a likely second mandate. When he assumed power, Barrow claimed that he has inherited a divided and broken nation with a ransacked Treasury. Will the EU nations honour their pledge to a government which is going out of compliance with IMF and World Bank guidelines? Assan Sallah Germany   Our wrath should be with the National Assembly Dear editor, The passing of the SAB is a clear indication of the general lack of courage and conviction in our National Assembly Members collectively. There is no doubt that the Executive will bring proposals that could be either unconstitutional or unjustified or both such as the SAB. That happens in every democracy everyday. But in serious parliaments led by serious parliamentarians who have unshakable courage and strong convictions, such unconstitutional and unjustified proposals are not only rejected but those NAMs go further to punish the Executive for such irresponsible behavior. The powers and tools that parliamentarians have to contain and discipline the Executive can be found in every country’s constitution and laws. In The Gambia such powers are in the Constitution for our NAMs to use. So I am not surprised that the Executive brought this unconstitutional and unjustified SAB into the National Assembly. My surprise and disappointment is the failure of our NAMs to invoke Section 75 of our Constitution to pass a vote of censure against the Minister of Finance. This is just one constitutional power and tool they have to contain and discipline the Executive! I had talked to few of the NAMs when the illegal SAB was first brought before the National Assembly to encourage them to use that power and tool to punish the Executive for their recklessness. I wrote about it also publicly! Why didn’t they use it? Are they afraid or don’t they believe it is there to use? We have to realize that the parliament is the main gatekeeper and the main check against the Executive. In the past our parliament allowed the Executive to misconduct itself all the time without facing any risks. Every year the APRC Regime would bring an unconstitutional and unjustified SAB into parliament only to have their NAMs approve it without question. I had written about this since 2014 to awaken the NAMs at that time to their responsibilities to no avail! My greatest disappointment therefore is to now see this parliament also follow the same path of lack of courage and conviction! I do not expect that this parliament should condone ever again an unconstitutional and unjustified SAB and indeed any other illegal proposal, decision or act by this government. Regardless of who voted yes or no or who abstained or did not take part or what the Speaker did or not, the entire NAMs must take responsibility for this mess and we must make them pay for it dearly! They must be made to realize that they failed our nation and they must be held accountable! Pointing fingers to one or the other will only derail and dilute the matter. We must hold all of them responsible since none of them even proposed the use of the powers and tools they have to discipline the Executive! They just let the Executive go scot-free to plunder our money and our lives. We must realize that if there is to be system change in The Gambia to usher in a New Democratic Gambia it must start from the National Assembly. This is because it is the parliament that holds the key to all systems and processes and institutions in The Gambia! The Executive only proposes but it’s the National Assembly that decides to approve or disapprove. The Executive is only a law enforcer but it’s the National Assembly that checks and monitors to determine if the Executive is performing according to its decisions and the law. The Executive just executes the terms of the Constitution and other laws as well as the acts and other decisions of the National Assembly! Hence anything that goes good or bad in The Gambia it is the primary responsibility of the National Assembly! Therefore why are NAMs failing to discharge their full powers by using all the tools at their disposal? Courage and conviction! Madi Jobarteh Boraba]]>

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