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Sunday, July 21, 2024

No to salary increments for top public officials!

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Dear editor,

In The Gambia, the president, ministers, National Assembly Members and judges are the highest paid public servants. They are not only well paid, but they are also well served and protected with numerous lucrative incentives and benefits that would be difficult to justify, morally, legally and economically. Furthermore, these public officials are entrusted with immense powers, privileges and immunities which are enough to make them lords over the people. Yet, consistently these officials continue to demand an increase of their salaries, incentives and benefits.

The only reason these officials are showered with such lucrative salaries, incentives, benefits and privileges is for only one purpose: to serve the best interest of the Gambia. That is, to ensure that the rights of Gambians are protected, and their needs are fulfilled so as to guarantee freedom, prosperity and hope for the people. But are they performing that function effectively and efficiently as required by law. NO.

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The wealth of the country is not the property, and for the benefit of only a few people. Rather, the wealth of the country belongs to all Gambians. In fact, those who work in the State are servants of the rest of the population. Their task is to utilize public wealth in such a way as to provide better life, freedom and hope to the people. Hence the purpose of the State is to serve the people and not to serve only a few bunch of public servants.

Unfortunately, since Independence, officials of the State have subverted the purpose of the State towards themselves to serve their selfish interest at the detriment of the interests of the majority of the people. Not only have they sought to legalize and legitimize unjustified and unethical incentives for themselves, but also corruption, inefficiency and incompetence is rife within the State in total contravention of the Constitution and other laws of the Gambia. Not only do these State officials ignore corrupt practices but they also encourage and protect corruption and its perpetrators to the severe detriment of the majority of Gambians. It has to stop.

For example, while they impose huge taxes on the people and take huge loans in the name of the people and receive huge grants on behalf of the people, the Executive has failed to effectively and efficiently manage the economy such that most Gambians will be out of poverty. Despite rising taxes, loans and grants, there is no commensurate increase in the availability and delivery of public goods and services. Instead, the cost of living continues to increase while there are limited opportunities for employment, investment, and economic wellbeing which is why Gambians are eager to flee their country by any means possible to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

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Meantime, the National Assembly continues to fail to play their oversight function as effectively as required by the Constitution to ensure that they discipline the Executive. Rather NAMs have turned the parliament into a theater to defend the Executive and their political party and selfish interests instead of standing up for the best interest of citizens.

The Judiciary on the other hand has failed to ensure that there are dignified and equipped courthouses with all the tools necessary to ensure quick access to and efficient delivery of justice to the people. Visit the courthouses from Banjul to Basse to realize how ill-equipped, unfit and poorly maintained courtrooms are. Consequently, Gambians find it difficult to enjoy the protection of houses of justice as court processes are unnecessarily long. What then is the interest of the Chief Justice and the Judiciary? Is it to deliver justice to Gambians first and foremost or is their interest to secure their lives and future at the detriment of the people?

There should be a 10-year moratorium on salary increment for the president, ministers, NAMs and judges. Rather, Gambians should insist that they perform and deliver their functions as set out in the Constitution. These officials are already hugely catered for and there is no moral, legal or institutional justification to shower them up with any more incentives. The national cake is not for them alone when most of the public servants are paid a pittance.

Rather, Gambians must demand that the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary stop perpetrating corruption, mismanagement of public resources, and waste. They must be told to abide by and uphold the Constitution in the performance of their functions. So far, they are underperforming woefully thereby turning The Gambia into a highly indebted poor country where deprivation, injustice, insecurity and lack of opportunities are rife, thus threatening national cohesion and stability.

Madi Jobarteh


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