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NAM asks president to reprimand minister

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By Omar Bah

The National Assembly Member for Foñi Kansala, Almameh Gibba, has asked finance minister Seedy Keita to offer a public apology to Gambians for failing to fulfil a cabinet resolution to increase transport and residential allowances for civil servants. He also advised President Adama Barrow to reprimand the minister.

In January, the cabinet approved the increment of both transport and residential allowances for Gambian civil servants. The increment came after an emergency meeting on estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2024, which was held in mid-November 2023. The allowance structure is reviewed every five years, with the last one taking place in 2018. The increments were supposed to be as follows: transport allowance: D1,500 to D2,500, and residential allowance: D1,700 to D3,000. However, at the end of January, the government annulled the proposed increment, which was going to take effect at the end of January.

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Commenting on the issue during the National Assembly Adjournment Debate recently, Gibba said Minister Keita “should not get away with faking a whole civil service”.

“It is high time for the president to take the bull by the horns and sanction the minister for failing to fulfill the cabinet resolution. I also demand a public apology from the minister to the entire civil service for failing to fulfill his promise of increasing their allowances. If a minister can refuse to implement a cabinet resolution, it is a call for concern, and it begs the question of whether the cabinet is [just] discussing it among themselves. So, I task the president to either sanction the minister of finance or ask him to apologise to Gambians,” he said.

Defence

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Turning to defence, Gibba said there should be no budget for the ministry until it normalises GAF terms and conditions of service (tacos) and take it to the assembly. He alleged that some Gambian soldiers at the Casamance border are operating in mufti.

“I was told it was an agreement reached when some Senegalese forces entered the Gambian border and insisted, they would not leave. I understand that part of the compromises the GAF made was to accept that its soldiers would not wear uniforms during the day,” he said. He urged the minister of defence to address the issue as quickly as possible.

Good riddance

Member for Foñi Jarrol, Bakary Badjie thanked President Barrow for removing education minister Claudiana Cole.

“I want to thank President Barrow from the bottom of my heart for firing the minister of basic and secondary education,” Badjie said, claiming she was incompetent and inept.

Commenting on the ongoing demolition of structures that encroached or cluttered the roads, Nominated Member Kebba Lang Fofana said the exercise should be checked to ensure it follows due process.  “We support the process, but I believe we should rethink the way and manner in which it is done,” he said.

‘Disaster in waiting’

He said the management of GPA and the ministry of works should be taken to task to address the issues of the ferries because “the situation is a disaster in waiting”. He thanked the president for initiating the national dialogue.

Nominated Member Fatoumatta Jawara said the level of insecurity in the country is reaching “an alarming stage” and that Gambians are complicit because they participate in the crimes or offer sanctuary to those engaged in the crimes. He urged the security agencies to monitor the borders and seaport and ensure that they limit the smuggling of “kush” and other illicit drugs into the country.

NAM for Banjul South, Touma Njai urged National Assembly Members to urged their party leaders to be attending the presidential dialogue in person and stop sending representatives. She said said businesses demolished by Operation Clear the Roads should have been allocated spaces to relocate.

The NAM for Upper Niumi, Omar Darboe said the Banjul-Barra ferry crossing point needs urgent attention from the government.

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