There is absolutely no justification for this supplementary appropriation bill as the money will not change lives and livelihoods in this country, but only plunge the country into further debt and put citizens into high cost of living and deprivation. The proposed budget lines are only populist and intended to serve political purposes than any real development for the country.
For example, the Banjul road project was based on a multimillion-dalasi contract that was approved since 2 years ago. Why still continue to ask for more money for this project, especially to pay for arrears into hundreds of millions of dalasi? How could arrears develop when the Banjul and Basse road construction projects were budgeted? What period does these arrears cover? Why were there arrears in the first place?
This supplementary budget appears as if the Government never knew that it had commitments such that it would have budgeted for them adequately in the 2021 budget. But how could we get to the middle of the year only for such huge amounts of money be requested only to pay for arrears.
Similarly, where are the billions of dalasi obtained to combat COVID? If those funds were judiciously used, the Government should have been able to build brand new hospitals across the country and secure tens of ambulances. In Ghana, the Government took advantage of COVID to build a world-class infectious diseases management centre. But thanks to the corruption and mismanagement of CIVID funds, the Gambia Government on the other hand gained nothing from the huge financial opportunities availed to it by this pandemic. Hence it is scandalous that the Government is asking for 134 million dalasi to buy 80 ambulances at this time of the year.
Funds requested for the security institutions, GRTS and vehicles for Governors are unjustifiable and irresponsible at this time of the year. The Minister of Finance cannot be lamenting about the negative impact of COVID on the world economy including ours only to still ask for more money which is not going to generate any revenue. How could buying of vehicles for Governors be an urgent matter for this country at this time? Is it for them to campaign for Pres. Barrow or add any value to rural governance and development?
The Government knew since 2020 that there will be an election in December 2021. Hence in making the 2021 budget, these institutions should have been well catered for. But the Government cannot wait until in the middle of the year and four months to that election only to come up with a supplementary appropriation bill to ask for money for something that they should have budgeted for in the 2021 budget.
Can the Minister tell us in which area of the election is the IEC going to use that money? If indeed this supplementary budget is genuine, why did it not include money for diaspora registration and voting? Secondly, as the TRRC concludes, the next major issue is implementation of its recommendations such as providing reparations to victims, conducting prosecutions and making institutional and legal reforms? Where is the money for these activities? Also, where is the money for civil service and security sector reforms? It appears these reforms which are the heart of system change are not the interest of the Government.
And why is the Gambia Government funding OIC projects by compensating people whose lands and homes will be affected by the road construction? What we know is that it is the OIC that funds its summits. Therefore, why should the Gambia Government fund any part of this summit, especially such a major funding?
This supplementary bill is unjustifiable, irresponsible and geared towards only promoting populist and political objectives. It is not coming out of any genuine and dire need to salvage this country and serve the people. Rather it is meant to plunder public wealth by targeting projects and activities which will touch the hearts of citizens. Hence the Minister of Finance has cleverly devised a strategy to steal public funds by appealing to people’s sensibilities through some human interest projects and activities.
No NAM should approve even a single butut for this bill.
For The Gambia Our Homeland