This became public yesterday at the National Assembly by Netty Baldeh, the Member for Tumana. Baldeh was presenting for adoption two reports by a four-member parliamentary delegation that had been to France for the 23rd session of ACP-PA and 27th session of ACP-EU joint parliamentary sitting, held from 12-19 March.
“I was reliably advised by ACP secretariat that The Gambia is among the countries that are in arrears with their statutory contributions,” he informed the Assembly.
“Accordingly, The Gambia’s membership rights and privileges are being restricted, for example, our ambassador cannot have floor at the council or meetings of ACP ambassadors. Our parliamentary delegation shall henceforth not be able to have the floor or vote in plenary or committees.”
The amount of money involved was not disclosed, but an unnamed senior National Assembly Member told The Standard that it was a two-year arrears. The parliamentarians have raised concerns over the issue, calling on the government to pay its arrears.
“I am appealing to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs to do all in their powers to settle these outstanding payments,” said Baldeh, who led the delegation.
The ACP is an organisation of 67 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries while the EU comprises 27 European countries. The ACP is funded by annual statuary contributions of member states and grants from EU.
“Other countries were sanctioned for their failure to pay their statuary contributions, but The Gambia was not despite our arrears and it is important for us to maintain our integrity,” said Alhagie Sillah, the Member for Banjul North.
In her intervention, the deputy speaker, Fatou Mbaye was hopeful, promising her colleagues that “something would be done about the issue sooner than later.”
Meanwhile, the majority leader and Member for Serekunda East, Fabakary Tombong Jatta has opined that the EU-Africa strategic relationship should be mutually beneficial.
“Looking through the report, you will find out that we are no longer taking the backstage. The strategies and programmes should be balanced to address issues of common concern,” he said.
“The political dialogue itself should also address not only issues in Africa but equally issues in Europe too. If you remember, we threw out one important document here simply because it was not balanced. When we go into partnerships, it should be mutually beneficial and that’s why I said I am glad looking at this report. We have begun to take our rightful position in terms of issues that affects us.
“If they are talking about African integration, we should also be talking about European integration. They [Europeans] will not say they do not have governance issues. There is no perfect system.”
By Sainey Marenah]]>