By Alagie Manneh
The proposed salary hike of the Barrow administration will be “bad” for the Gambian economy and “disastrous” for perceived beneficiaries, economist and former presidential affairs minister Momodou Sabally has warned.
He called the idea “nothing but a political gimmick” as the election nears.
The proposed hike was announced in a dispatch Tuesday by the government, and stated President Barrow’s government is aware of the domestic and international socio-economic dynamics affecting the standards of living of many people and is “diligently working towards ensuring that Gambian civil servants and their families enjoy maximum quality work-life balance with ideal living incomes”.
But Mr Sabally disagrees, arguing: “The Gambian economy is already suffocated with excessive debt due to the existing fiscal binge exacerbating the mismatch between revenue and expenditure. The planned salary hike is bad for the economy as it will further worsen the already high inflation levels consumers are faced with.”
He told The Standard that the current budget already features high domestic borrowing aimed at financing local infrastructure projects that have traditionally been financed with grants and low interest foreign borrowing.
“Implementing a salary hike this year barely two years after a 50 percent salary increase across the board will spell disaster for the perceived beneficiaries as the resultant inflation will erode all potential gains in nominal income,” he warned.
Mr Sabally, who is a UDP supporter, also spoke about his disappointments after an announcement by the finance minister, Mambury Njie, that there is no money in government coffers to fund the voting of the Gambian diaspora.
“When I saw the news, I was saddened and shocked because I thought the struggles that the diaspora did, the monies they spent to make sure Adama Barrow becomes president. The Diaspora was promised by the Barrow government that their right to vote is guaranteed, but sadly, and sadly enough it is, Barrow has now decided to give that right to Mambury Njie to decide whether the Gambian Diaspora will vote or not in the upcoming elections. Mambury said the budget that the lawmakers approved for the year, no money was placed on that money to finance the voting of the diaspora. Did Adama Barrow and Mambury Njie not know that this year elections were going to be held? Didn’t they know that the Gambian Diaspora will be voting in this election? So why didn’t they budget it?” he asked.
Mr Sabally said the writings have always been on the wall that Barrow has no intention to cater for the Diaspora in the coming elections.
“That was absolutely clear when he declared the Gambian diaspora a goat’s tail. He knows that those [Diaspora] people are aware, that he can’t fool them and that they are never going to vote for him and his gang of squirrels. Why wouldn’t the government take loan for the diaspora to vote? In fact, under this current budget, the government will borrow over 3 billion dalasi, domestically. And to what end? To construct roads across the country that are actually not intended for development but for Barrow’s own gain, fooling rural settlers that he is working for the country so that they may vote for him.”
He added: “But the Gambian diaspora, I know that you are worthy men and women. I also know that whether you people are allowed to vote or not, your wishes and aspirations will be realised after December.”