By: Awa Bah
In his contribution to the debate on the Amendment of the Appropriation Act 2017, Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, said Government needs to diversify its sources of revenue earnings by tapping on the potentials of the productive sectors and not relying on taxation and loans.
“We should not continue depending on loans for our development as this is unsustainable. Although, we cannot at this stage do away with contracting loans, but there is need for the Government to develop the productive base of the economy by tapping on the potentials of agriculture, the extractive industry, etc.” said the Banjul North NAM.
He argued that the informal sector is a major employer and urged for more support to develop the capacities of operators to increase their productivity and participation in the economy. He added that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) also need to be supported in terms of their operations in adding value to products which could be marketed locally to reduce the importation bill as well as exported to earn foreign exchange for the country.
The Banjul North NAM noted that the objective of the revised budget as stated by the finance minister and also as required by the law is to reduce the amounts that have already been approved by the National Assembly. “Some areas have been reduced in this revised budget including the servicing of local debt but I’ve also noticed that the servicing of payments on foreign debts has increased and there is need to explain why this is the case when we are talking about reductions,” he added.
Hon. Sillah said their work would have been made easier if the executive had furnished them with information on how much has been expended so far since the year has gone halfway. “I want the minister to take note that it would have been helpful if we were provided with information indicating how much has been spent in the last six months to guide us to determine what and how much to slash from the approved budget,” he said.
The Banjul North NAM added “we are here to work with the executive to support the process to ensure that the resources being allocated do have the positive impact for which they are intended to have on the lives of the people.”