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NAM URGES GOV’T TO ENSURE JAH OIL USES $50M BADEA LOAN AS AGREED

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By Tabora Bojang

The National Assembly member for Niamina Dankunku has warned Finance Minister Seedy Keita to ensure that government contracted $50 million BADEA loan given to Jah Oil is used for the purposes intended, because there could be serious legal consequences if it is diverted to other purposes.

Speaking at the Assembly yesterday, Jallow, an NRP member, said government has a responsibility to ensure the loan is implemented according to the conditions and for the purposes outlined.

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“We approved this [$50 million] loan facility to exclusively support Gambians businesses to import food and other essential commodities from Arab and African countries to lower the high cost of living for citizens.  But one day, I heard the beneficiary of the loan saying on radio that he has a vast land in the Central River Region for the cultivation of rice, and suggesting that rice cultivation is also part of the purpose of the facility. Let me remind you that when we were approving this loan, there was nothing like rice production among the things it is intended for. It only says the funds can be used to import rice, but for rice cultivation, that is a question and if it is true then that is a violation of Article 10 of the agreement signed on behalf of BADEA by Dr Sidi Ould TAH and Finance Minister Seedy Keita,” Jallow submitted during Monday’s debate on the state of the nation address.

According to him, it is an event of default under the agreement if anytime the borrower [Government] uses any part of the proceeds for a purpose other than for which the loan facility has been extended, “which is the importation of food and other products”.

“We must be very careful with the way this loan is implemented. If what the beneficiary of the contract is suggesting is true, then the government has already put itself in some legal litigation because it is the borrower of this money and it behooves them to ensure it is effectively implemented,” Jallow who is the longest serving NAM in the 6th legislature said.

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The former minority leader said his fellow parliamentarians are not happy that the facility is granted to only one single private entity.

“This money $50 million could create a lot of millionaires in this country and since the loan was taken on behalf of the nation, giving it to someone who is already a millionaire means the purpose is defeated.  For us, we were actually expecting that government institutions like GGC will be part of this because they import rice into the country which helped force prices come down significantly,” NAM Jallow said.

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