By: Kebba AF Touray
Saikou Marong, Member for Latrikunda Sabiji, has commended the President for what he described as a visionary address, but called on him for more clarity in the areas of agriculture, health, Information, Communication and Technology Master plan and data center, as well as the increment of energy needs with renewable growth from 2 to 40 percent by 2021.
These he cited have not been clearly explicated in the president’s address and urged for vivid details on these thematic areas.
Hon Marong said this at the legislature during the national assembly debate on the President’s State of Nation Address, held on the 19th September 2019, at the National Assembly in Banjul
He said the address is a constitutional mandate for the President under section 77 subsection 1 to appear before the legislature for the state of national address at least once every year, but does not indicate the stipulated time.
He said the debate on the address has been adjourned from 23rd of September to 3rd October 2019, for the Vice President to be present during the debate and she did.
He said “we have to be very mindful, let’s remember section 77 subsection (3), which calls for the Vice President to witness the debate on the address, is the same provision that gives power to a sitting president to serve for five years”.
He said further that there is a provision that stipulates that the sitting President can resign anytime he wishes. “I see the address as a visionary, for the reason that the President in his address explained the policies and programmes of the various departments under his government”.
He said the president in the speech called on the Ministries to have direction which can be attained only with the help of the policies and programmes explained in the speech.
“This shows that we have A New Gambian that we have been yearning for and I am very proud to say that there is a New Gambia”, he said.
He said the economy is growing with an economic growth from 4.8 percent in 2017 to 6.8 percent in 2018, whereas the total revenue grants stood at 9.8 percent of GDP in the first three months of 2019 compared to 8.6 percent GDP of the same period in 2018.
He commended the government for the steps taken to revise the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) laws, adding that over the past years, most of the SOE laws have not been functioning, but the laws will guide the operations of all the SOEs for effective service delivery and creation of jobs.
It is a plus for the government to come up with this foresight”, said Marong.
He however reminded the government that last year, there was a delay in the purchase of groundnuts from farmers and called on the government to ensure that this is averted this year. He added that the president has not stated the reason for the delay which he should have been done.
He said health is paramount and stressed that he had anticipated seeing the infant mortality rates and the disability bill in the health sector, adding that it will help health operations in the country. These, he decried, have not been made explicit in the speech and called for thorough statistics on the issue.