By Madi Jobarteh
Government says the national ID card will cost D450 to purchase. I say it should be free. Everyone says The Gambia Government cannot afford to make it free. Some claim the government is in deficit while others say national documents are not free anywhere in the world! Really?
I think sometimes it is better for people to listen to themselves first and critically interrogate their own information and knowledge before speaking.
On what do those who claim the government cannot afford this or that, base their argument? Who can claim that The Gambia Government cannot afford anything? All the evidence in terms of source of revenue for The Gambia Government clearly tells me that our government can indeed afford to provide national documents without citizens paying a butut. If not justify, to me why the government cannot?
I can defend my argument that The Gambia Government can.
GRA collects more than D9 billion every year.
Public enterprises collect more than D10 billion every year. Just follow the Janneh Commission to hear the millions of dollars and dalasis being generated out of our public institutions.
Under Jammeh the international telecommunications gateway produces at least US$2 million every month!
Under Barrow the same gateway produces at least US$800,000 every month!
The Gambia has received loans and grants of over D10 billion since January 2017.
So far we don’t even know how many millions we received in royalties from contracts given to oil and other mining companies.
Where is that money?
At the same time, if we cannot afford free national documents, yet we have seen…
The president spent D18 million on one country tour.
Within six months over D300 million was spent on foreign travels.
The president has so far made millions of donations.
Millions more have been spent on ceremonies and festivals.
Millions of dollars of loans and grants are contracted and received respectively without any tangible impact on our lives.
Therefore if this government is in deficit, who should be blamed and who should suffer for that? Do you ask why the government is in deficit in the first place?
Our citizens pay high taxes all their lives. Our government takes loans beyond what it can carry. Our government receives grants of huge amounts. Yet for 52 years we only attained the status of ‘Highly Indebted Poor Country’ and ranked as a ‘Least Developed Country’.
Yet today fellow citizens tell us our government is in deficit and it cannot afford this or that and that in America or Europe citizens pay this and that.
Sometimes you really wonder whether it is our government that is the problem or our people are the problem or both!
Yes in America and Europe citizens pay huge taxes too and pay for everything else but at the same time they receive quality public goods and services and enjoy the highest standard of living.
In The Gambia we also pay high taxes and pay for every other thing yet we do not enjoy those quality goods and services and we don’t enjoy any good standard of living. Despite this painful reality you can still have these same citizens defend that same government for imposing more fees on our heads!
Meantime bear in mind that ID cards are renewed every five years. This means for the duration of our entire lives we will all come back again every 5 years to pay D450 for this document. There is no doubt that in 10 years this D450 will double to D900 and going up. But still citizens say it is justifiable! Great!
Honestly, one can see that when you don’t have conscious and critically-minded citizens, you can only have a corrupt and useless government that imposes all costs on the people yet those same people will come back to defend that same Government.
And that is what they call that fairness and constructive criticism.
Good luck Gambia.
Let’s see how on earth we will ever develop! Let’s keep paying more taxes. Let’s keep allowing government to impose more costs on us. Let’s keep pampering government. Let’s keep defending government that they can’t afford this or that. Let’s keep saying this is what also happens in America and Europe even if we don’t enjoy the kind of living standards that Americans and Europeans enjoy!
Good luck Gambia!