By Awa Bah
‘‘I still want to insist that there is need for salary increment in this country. What we have here, is starvation wages and Government must agree to introduce a minimum wage that one can depend on, to meet one’s basic needs.” These were the words of Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, in his contribution to the adjournment debate of Tuesday July 3rd 2018.
The Banjul North NAM said the issue of salary increment was raised during the just concluded second ordinary session of the National Assembly; but that the then Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Amadou Sanneh, responded that there will be no salary increment for public servants.
Sillah argued that Government needs to urgently do something about augmenting salaries; that this would also require a reduction of the dependence on taxation, loans and grants to run this country, by developing the productive sectors of the economy and diversify its source of revenue generation.
The Banjul North NAM said Government should now focus its attention on working towards instituting a salary increment; that even if this increment cannot be for public servants across the board, but at least for those in the lower tiers of the salary structure; that income gaps or disparities are very wide or huge and thus questioned how those in the lower grades are surviving with such meagre incomes. “Just imagine someone receiving one thousand dalasi as salary. What can one do with one thousand dalasi (D1000) or one thousand five hundred dalasi (D1500)? We should really work on this,” he concluded
Earlier, during the course of the session on questions and answers, Sillah asked the same salary issue to the then Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Amadou Sanneh, if the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, could inform the august Assembly, when Government would introduce salary increment and the mechanisms that were in place to put it into effect.
In his response, the Finance Minister replied that the Gambia’s debt to GDP ratio, stands at 130 per cent; that this illustrates the need for fiscal consolidation to restore macroeconomic stability that will pave a way for increase in income in public servants, through salary increment.
The former Finance and Economic Affairs Minister added that the estimated resource envelope for 2018, can barely keep up with current public expenditure outlays; that latest revenue collection is estimated at D8.6 billion, of which subvention to public institutions was D2.0 billion, wages and salaries D2.8 billion, interest payments D2.3 billion and other charges D2.8 billion; that this sums up to D9.9 billion and leaves a deficit of D1.3 billion to be financed through additional borrowing.