By Lamin Cham
With only a few days to go before salaries are paid by the Gambia government, there have been increased interest and enquiries all over as to whether the much-promised new grading and pay system will take effect as promised. The Gambia government announced it will introduce a new grading system with a significant upward revision of salaries to commensurate with increasing cost of living.
According to the government, the new system will start this month, July.
However, with salaries due next week, and palpable lack of excitement in government circles, civil servants and the public at large have begun to show signs of worry.
The Standard yesterday contacted three senior officials, one at the Personnel Management Office and the other two from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs about the state of the new grading system. All officials spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
According to the PMO official, the human resource component of the work on the new grading system, which was under the PMO, has been completed and everything is now at the Ministry of Finance.
”In other words, all what is required from the PMO on the matter have been done and what is left is now in the domain of the Ministry of Finance,” our PMO source said.
The first official we contacted at the Ministry of Finance said as far as his office is concerned, there is no changes on the planned introduction of the new grading system.
”The Gambia Government has approved the new grading and pay system and were working on that exactly and up to now, there have been no changes or directives to the contrary. So as far as my office is concerned, we are not aware of any changes,” our source said.
A second source at the finance ministry however sounded a cautionary note:
”It will definitely happen because there is full government commitment to ensure it. But I want to be cautious about when because there is still some degree of processing to be done. For example, the new grading and pay system has not been budgeted in the current budget and I am not sure there is any funds for a supplementary appropriation bill. This means if it happens, the current budget will have to be revised to cater for this new pay system from now on to the next budget next year. And again, all these must go to the National Assembly, the only authorising body for any government expenditures. So, can all these be done in a week’s time? I don’t want to sound cynical but there is some food for thought here,” our source said.
A retired former finance officer said the government will have to deal with other bodies like the IMF to be able to afford this new pay system.
“Government may be fully committed to and desirous of such a move but it will not be easy, to be honest, knowing the current economic situation,” he noted.