By Tabora Bojang
Former director of budget, Momodou Sabally has asked the National Assembly not to approve the government’s proposed D1.7 billion supplementary appropriation bill 2021.
Barely six months after the approval of the D22 billion budget for the year, it has emerged that the Minister of Finance Mambury Njie will appear before lawmakers to seek approval for additional D1.767, 400, 000 in a bid “to meet the country’s budgetary demands.”
According to reports, the funds will be applied for election expenditures as follows; Judiciary (D22, 350,000) for revising courts, induction and training, provincial makeshift courts, logistics and operations, IEC (D80, 000,000) Ministry of Defense (D59,373,744) as well as the Ministry of Information (D30,000,000) to help them equip for election coverage.
The rest of the allocation is for the Ministry of Finance (D131, 214,256) Centralized Services (D 75,000000) Ministry of Lands (D12.5 million) Ministry of Works (D1.127,960,00) Ministry of Health (D134 million) and Ministry of Higher Education (D50 million) respectively.
But Sabally, who served as director of budget and presidential affairs minister, said the proposed SAB is a “deliberate attempt” by the Barrow administration to “unjustifiably” use the national treasury to fund white elephant projects aimed at deceiving Gambians in an election year.
Sabally explained that best practices require that supplementary bills are requested to cater for unexpected incidences in expenditure, stating that none of the areas earmarked in the proposal fits such a bill.
“It is completely unconscionable that a government that just approved a budget nearly six months ago can come up with a supplementary appropriation request for almost D1.8 billion.
The NAMs should reject it in totality and I urge them to stand up and say no to this Barrow kleptocracy. How can you allocate D30 million for the Ministry of Information to cover election courage when we have a plethora of media houses? Does the Ministry of Information need to pay media houses for them to cover elections? Equally, the allocation for the Judiciary is also unsubstantiated. Training and accommodation for the judiciary is not an emergency, everybody knows we are going to have an election and as such it should have been properly budgeted with the vision that there would be registration as well as the revising courts,” he said.
He said the government has found itself in a corner amid election desperation coming on the heels of a missed opportunity to tap into the pledges of over 1.4 billion Euros by the EU member states.
“This is why they decided to go and lay foundation stones for a plethora of road projects without having the funds. Now they want an easy way of financing this without going through the necessary international procurement standards since those standards require cleanliness and transparency. That’s why they want to use these local funds to go and fool the electorate. The fundamental question the NAMs should ask the minister is where the funds are going to come from,” he stated.