Kebba Touray, the finance minister stepping in for the foreign minister, told deputies while laying the motion for ratification that “the agreement seeks to enhance the existing bilateral relationship that exists between The Gambia and Saudi Arabia and further seeks to strengthen ties between our two countries and her nationals, promote and support cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment, education, science, technology, culture, information, tourism, youth and sports.”
Minister Touray told parliamentarians: “The agreement is valid for five years, and is automatically renewable based on mutual consent for one year. It is important to point out that the contracting parties shall encourage the expansion and diversification of their trade relations within the confines of the international trading system. They will apply ‘most favoured nations’ clause on trade exchange between the two countries and what this means is that if The Gambia enters into another trade agreement and such condition becomes more favourable than those contained in the agreement then automatically, the conditions in this agreement will be adjusted to most favoured nation conditions. I can assure you by ratifying this agreement, The Gambia’s interest will be fully realised in terms of strengthening relations with a country like Saudi Arabia with which we have historical and cultural ties. It is the conviction of the government that this agreement will provide the basic framework on which we can realise the potentials between the two countries.”
Seconding the motion, Assembly majority leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said: “The cooperation will undoubtedly benefit the citizenry of both countries. The government of Saudi Arabia has over the period supported Gambian institutions and religious institutions in many ways. The spirit of the cooperation is clear, honest, and sincerely to benefit the two countries.”
Habibu Jawo, Member for Jimara constituency supported the agreement saying The Gambia and Saudi Arabia are “fantastic Friends”.
The Basse representative, Muhammed Magassy, also said: “I want to suggest that due consideration be given to the teaching and learning of Arabic language from primary school. We have Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) but IRK in the school syllabus is taught in English language not Arabic, meaning you learn from grade one to twelve without learning a single word in Arabic. Mono linguistic is mono opportunity.”
Babou Gaye Sonko and Lamin Saine, both nominated members contributed to the motion describing it as non- controversial.
“Going through the document, the interest of the youths are captured which is very significant,” Mr Sonko, the ruling party youth leader said.
Abdoulie Suku Singhateh, from Lower Baddibu and Fatou Mbaye, deputy speaker both commented on the motion saying it will boost businesses and private sector growth.
Speaker of the House, Abdoulie Bojang moderated the session.
Meanwhile, Minister Touray informed the Assembly that the agreement has obtained legal clearance from the Attorney General which provides for the formation of a joint commission, whose functions will be the implementation of the agreement.]]>