By Tabora Bojang
Subvented institutions under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education may not receive monies to cover salaries and other expenditures for the months of November and December 2023, the ministry warned yesterday.
Deputy permanent secretary, Jerreh Sanyang, told members of the education committee of the National Assembly that the main reason behind this is the insufficient funding from the Ministry of Finance.
He said most intervention areas under MoBSE including the School Improvement Grants are riddled with funding problems with over D50 million arrears to schools for the third term of the last academic calendar and the first term for this year.
He alleged that when MoBSE makes requests for funds allocated to them in the budget, the Ministry of Finance would only give what they think could be given within the budget and not what is needed according to the data.
“The budget line for the School Improvement Grant was limited and we need about D9 million to augment it. When the Gambia Teachers Union threatened to go on strike last term, we engaged the Ministry of Finance and they paid D73 million and there was a pending balance of D14 million. In this first term we requested D61 million but we received only D25 million,” DPS Sanyang revealed.
He said there is also a shortfall in funding when it comes to monthly subventions.
According to him, MoBSE’s monthly requirement for subvention is D61,675, 90. “But as we speak based on the monthly requirement, we will only be able to pay [subventions to institutions] in October but November and December will not be paid because so far our budget balance is D37 million, meaning we cannot go beyond October because there would be no money,” Sanyang warned.
He said it is important for these issues to be brought before the attention of lawmakers in order to find solutions to it. He continued: “We know it is volatile. We never wait for things to happen. Payment of salary takes time. It is a process. If you wait until the last day even if the funds are transferred you cannot pay immediately.”
Committee chairman and member for Upper Saloum, Alhagie Mbow said subvention is ‘non-negotiable’ and called on the authorities to ensure right strategies are applied to avert such situations.
Committee member and NAM for Foni Bintang, Bakary K Badjie claimed that the underfunding of the education sector is one of the main reasons for the poor performance of students.
“This is crippling the education system,” he said.