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Monday, July 22, 2024

Reject punitive bills impacting the vulnerable populace

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By Baboucarr Nyang

Social justice activist

Dear esteemed members of the Gambia National Assembly,

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I am writing to you as a concerned citizen of The Gambia, deeply troubled by the proposed punitive bills currently under consideration. These bills threaten to further marginalize the poor while enriching the political elite, exacerbating the socio-economic divide in our beloved nation. The case of Kenya can be cited as an example that agitated the youth to react the way they did; some members of the Gambia National Assembly have been going to Kenya for Bench Marking therefore this should be a learning point to avert any anger from the people.

Economic and social impact

The enactment of these punitive measures will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the most vulnerable members of our society. Rather than promoting equitable growth and development, these bills will:

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1. Increase financial burden: Higher taxes and fees will disproportionately affect low-income families, making necessities unaffordable and pushing more people into poverty. The recent World Bank report has highlighted the inequality among Gambians especially those living in the Rural areas of which 7 out of 10 people are in poverty. We have seen how the price of commodities in the Gambia has skyrocketed despite the central of the Gambia saying Inflation has come down.

2. Erode public trust: The perception that these bills serve to benefit the political class at the expense of the common citizen will further erode trust in our institutions, leading to increased social unrest and instability. Again, in the case of Kenya where the youth feel the laws they were legislating only benefit the political class and perpetuate inequality and that is still not been removed from the hearts of the young people of Kenya.

A call for equitable legislation

As representatives of the people, don’t be carried with emotions, power, or greed, it is your duty to ensure that all legislation serves the public good and fosters a fair and just society. I urge you to consider the following actions:

1. Reject punitive bills: Vote against any proposed legislation that disproportionately burdens the poor and vulnerable.

2. Promote inclusive policies: Advocate for policies that promote economic inclusivity, social welfare, and equitable opportunities for all Gambians. Gambian youth are unemployed and underemployed leading to many young people being discouraged in their country. Young entrepreneurs are losing their businesses due to policies that are unjust and the Cement Saga can be cited as a protective policy that the government introduced without any framework that will encourage already businesses to flourish.

3. Engage in dialogue: Facilitate open and transparent discussions with constituents, civil society organizations, and economic experts to develop legislation that addresses the root causes of poverty and inequality. The National Assemble should encourage public participation and views on any law before its passing. This will build trust and confidence of the Gambians.

In conclusion, I implore you to reject these punitive bills and work towards creating a legislative framework that truly serves the interests of all Gambians. Let us strive to build a nation where every citizen, regardless of their socio-economic status, can thrive and contribute to our collective prosperity.

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