By Awa B. Bah
Ministers on Wednesday June 27th 2018, took turns to mount the podium and respond to the questions for which due notice were given by deputies, at the National Assembly building in Banjul.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Amadou Sanneh, was the first to face members on Government’s plans to increase salaries and to update them on the measures put in place to that effect.
Sanneh in response, said the country’s current debt ration to GDP stands at 130%. This he said illustrates the need for fiscal consolidation to restore macroeconomic stability that will pave the way for increase in income of public servants, through salary increments; that the regional benchmark for debt / GDP ratio, stands at 70%, indicating that the country is way above the threshold by 60%.
Sanneh said the estimated resource envelope for 2018 can barely keep up with current public expenditure outlays; that revenues collection is estimated at D8.6 Billion of which, subvention to public institutions is D2.0 billion, wage and salaries D2.8billion, interest payments D2.3 billion and other charges D2.8 billion; that this sums up to D9.9 billion leaving a deficit of D1.3 billion to be finance through an additional borrowing limited to one percent of GDP, amounting to D539 million as agreed with the international monetary fund country program for the Gambia
Sanneh said the foregoing macroeconomic situation does not permit salary increment for public servants; that the timing of salary increment will be determined by Government’s fiscal position which does not look good.
Sanneh told Deputies that to bring the country back to macroeconomic stability, certain fiscal reforms such as the vehicle policy, rationalization of foreign and missions and public section rationalization should be undertaken. This he said, will enable Government create the much needed fiscal space and allow for a possible increase in priority spending which wages and salaries are part of.
Next to appear before Members was the Minister for Transport, Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Bai Lamin Jobe. Mr. Jobe was called to shed light on the status of the distribution of the four hundred kilometres of road to be constructed by the current Government and to distinguish how many kilometers will be available per constituency.
Jobe in his response said an MoU was signed with Probase Technology on the 5th of April 2018; that the final contract between them is currently under review by the Task committee.
Commenting on issues surrounding the current rainy season, the Minister was requested by members to give details if any, on the measures put in place to prevent flooding in the capital city of Banjul, especially the Tabacco Road area.
Jobe in his response called on Banjul City Council to embark on a massive cleansing of the drains in the City including the major outfalls. This he said will facilitate the evacuation of water from the city with the help of the pump house in Bund road, which is fully functional.
The minister of fisheries and water resources also faced Members on issues surrounding his Ministry’s plans in the Lower Fulladou West Constituency.
The Minister in his response said they have sent a team to assess the status of safe drinking water supply in the communities of Lower Fulladou; that the communities identified are qualified to be part of the incoming proposed projects which according to the Minister, will be implemented by the end of 2018.
He further informed members that the communities in Lower Fulladou West have been provided with safe drinking water under a project that completed in December 2017.