Minority Leader says Barrow failed to explain why Gambia missed debt service suspension

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By Omar Bah

The Minority Leader and National Assembly member for Brikama North has challenged the president to provide the Assembly with information explaining why The Gambia has failed to benefit from debt service suspension.

The country’s total public debt stock at the end of 2021 stood at D88.93 billion. Out of this, external debt constitutes $981.45 million and domestic debt $705.01 million.

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In 2020, Gambia benefitted from a G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which provided relief of D287.24 million in debt service payments. Debt relief was secured from the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, and the People’s Republic of China.

But in his State of The Nation Address, the president told lawmakers the country has not benefited from any debt service suspension this time around.

However, the NAM for Brikama North Alhagie S Darboe said the president should inform the National Assembly the reason why Gambia could not benefit from debt service suspension.

“I would appreciate it if the president could update the Assembly on the progressive achievements and shortcomings of the government’s National Development Plan which replaced the Vision 2020,” Darboe also said.

Diaspora

According to the president, the contribution of the Diaspora to the country’s economy remains very important, representing 40% of GDP.

But Honourable Darboe said there is nowhere in the president’s SONA where the concerns of young Gambians in the Diaspora facing deportation or waiting to be deported are mentioned.

“We have not seen anything regarding their fate and the position of the Gambia government to protect their welfare or the welfare of those who are already deported,” Honourable Darboe said.

On agriculture, Honourable Darboe said the millions expended into the sector has not yielded the desired goals and that the government should update the Assembly on the progress made in the sector.

Honourable Darboe also appealed to the president to try and attend the SONA next year in the first quarter.