The campaign manager of the opposition United Democratic Party Momodou Sabally has described as insensitive government’s decision to increase electricity and water bills.
“Increasing electricity and water prices to the high levels of up to 36 percent, at a time when the country is already suffering from unprecedented double-digit inflation is indeed the height of insensitively on the part of this government.
At a time when the whole country is fasting (Muslims and Christians), Barrow has decided to impose unprecedented hardship on the population, as if to say I do not care about you and your holy periods of devotion,” Sabally said.
He said the decision reminds him of the Biblical incident of the merciless King Rehoboam who told his people: “Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”
“And why would this government increase water and electricity charges on agriculture when the whole country is crying about high food prices? With uncertainties about food security growing around the world, as the Ukraine conflict continues to hurt everybody, why would President Barrow deliberately increase the cost of production in the agricultural sector?” he stated.
Sabally argued: “One would have expected any sound government to actually reduce all costs related to agriculture to protect that industry considering the high cost of food. And also, it is callous and malicious to raise charges on area councils given the fact that they are already constrained in terms of revenue sources as central government continues to steal from their sources of income. Is this all part of Barrow’s war on local government authorities in order to gain political mileage for his struggling NPP?”
He said a country battling with the scourge of high inflation with low growth and unemployment has “no business raising energy prices because the effect is quite obvious”.
“In a study on electricity prices and economic growth (using a multivariate framework); the empirical findings reveal that electricity prices negatively affect economic growth in Africa. In this vein this callous hike in electricity prices will surely worsen the current stagflation that The Gambia is facing.
The youth unemployment problem will continue to grow while this government scarcely has any clue about the correct statistics; nor do they have a plan to solve this critical national nightmare. But then who is surprised about all of these energy missteps inimical to growth and development under President Barrow and his inept Cabinet?” he said.
Sabally said Nawec now has a track record of “unsustainably” high ventures that do not only force them to increase service charges, but also undermine their own capacity for self-sufficient power production and distribution.