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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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The judiciary and legislative salaries and pensions bills 2024

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By Morro Gaye

The press release from the national assembly is an affront to our intelligence. The bill that seeks to promote transparency and accountability in respect of the renumerations and pensions of members of the national assembly failed to provide any indications of the salaries and allowances that each member is getting on a monthly basis which makes the press statement misleading and demonstrating reckless disregard for the concerns of the public.

Section 95 of the 1997 constitution did not state the number and value of each allowance that members are currently receiving in addition to their basic salaries. It also failed to show any indication of gratuity payments for those serving beyond one year of service.  It remains a challenge to address the underlying injustices of paying each member of the national assembly a whopping D50,000.00 as basic car allowance which is in excess of the usual basic car allowances paid to ordinary civil servants and those in other public institutions. As a matter of fact, paying housing allowance of D40,000.00 to the Speaker when he continues to reside in his own residence is unconscionable. The press release did not address this abnormality.

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It is no denying that the main reason for paying this huge D50,000.00 car allowance is only meant to offset the monthly loan deduction of about D40,000.00 for the Prado vehicles which to all indications have been given to lawmakers for FREE and not as a loan as we are made to believe. This accounting trickery which immensely benefited the MPs show the total disregard for due diligence and proper account ability of public funds. Deceiving the people who elected these members into office should be the last thing that the that national assembly members should be doing.

The bills for the judiciary, the legislative salaries and pensions have generated enough controversies and rightly so. The only thing that genuine lawmakers must do now is to completely REJECT the bill and focus on addressing the terrible economic situations of the low-paid nurses, teachers, drivers including those in the civil services and the security personnel whose retirement benefits continue to be extremely precarious.

As reliable sources indicated, the huge discrepancies in the renumerations of top officials in the three arms of government did not align with the approved integrated pay scale in the civil services. According to the current salary structure, the President is the highest-paid civil servant in the country with a fixed monthly salary of D255, 000, followed by the Speaker at D204,500.00 per month, then the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court Judges with a gross of D189,655.00 and D149,500, respectively. 

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The Members of Parliament earning a total gross of D145, 397.00 is more than the salary and allowances of the Vice President of the Republic, which is D124, 147.00. The average salary in the Gambia has been worked out as less than D7,000.00 with the 65 percent of the people living in less than $1 a day.

Both the judges and the lawmakers are relatively highly paid. Judges in Ghana are currently in strike over payment of 10 months outstanding allowances. Our judges have never experienced such frustrations in the Gambia.

Focusing specifically on gratuities for judges and members of parliament to boost their financial benefits disregarding other essential workers could be construed as another attempt by the executive to politically bribe those at the other arms of government as the government had just done for those conflicted media houses as we head to the 2026 elections.

All genuine Gambians must be ready to resist any illegal means of vote rigging or voter registration manipulation in the coming elections. As one elderly politician once said.” Elections are stolen not during the day of voting, but years or months before the election”. Politicians must be alert to the menace of illegal voter registration of foreign aliens, buying of voting cards and using slush money to bribe the conflicted media personalities, corrupt judges and greedy parliamentarians. The press release from the national assembly is full of misstatements and half-truths.

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