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City of Banjul
Monday, July 22, 2024
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National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Bill 2024

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By Madi Jobarteh

The Clerk of the National Assembly has issued a press release claiming to clarify that they are only seeking to repeal and replace the 1997 National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Act. In so doing, he said they are only focused on three issues relating to gratuity. Thus, he concluded that the current bill is not seeking to increase the allowances of NAMS.

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I find this press release to be misleading and false. In the first place, since the creation of this law in 1997 and amended in 2007, the National Assembly has not been following it. Over the years, the National Assembly has been increasing its salaries, pensions and benefits as they see fit. For example, in 2022 NAMs increased their own salary amidst public outcry. They argued that their counterparts in other countries receive far more salary, and further indicating that their work and status deserve such salary increment.

In fact, on the debate about the salary increase, Hon. Touma Njai was the only NAM who stood up to say she was ashamed to call herself an Honourable Member in expressing her opposition to the increment which was part of the budget estimates. That increment did not follow the existing law that the Clerk now claims to repeal and replace.

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Apart from salaries, we have also seen during the fifth legislature how NAMs were provided with pieces of land and brand new pick-up trucks which are incentives that are not covered by the National Assembly Salaries and Pensions Act. Only PDOIS NAMs rejected the trucks. Furthermore, in 2020 the Gambia Participate and CRPD jointly took the National Assembly to court to object to the D54M loan scheme created by NAMs for themselves and the Supreme Court ruled against the loan. Then in 2023, we have also seen NAMs provide themselves with brand new Prado SUVs.

All of these are incentives that the National Assembly Members have showered on themselves in total contravention of the existing law that guides how they should be remunerated. Therefore, it is misleading and false for the Clerk to claim that this current bill is merely to repeal and replace and address gratuity. It is more than that. This bill is meant to increase their salaries, allowances, pension and gratuity.

The evidence lies in these two pictures which are the schedules to the current 1997 law and the 2024 bill. It is clear that the salaries and allowances in the two documents are different thereby indicating increase.

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The National Assembly, the Judiciary and the Executive have been showering themselves with untold incentives, salaries, allowances and benefits over the years. Yet their performance and delivery do not match their reward. Therefore, they cannot continue to increase these benefits. They do not deserve any increment and there should be a moratorium on them. The national cake is not for only the president, ministers, NAMs and judges.

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