EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Upper Fulladu West national Assembly member has challenged Gambia’s 2020 draft national budget, identifying some points of arguments which, he said he thought worth highlighting in the budget.
Finance minister Mamburay Njie will table the 2020 budget before the national Assembly members on Monday but Sanna Jawara said in his view, there are some compelling information in the budget that are rather both disturbing and a clear manifestation of misplaced priorities moving forward.
He said the President’s office alone registered D31m increased allocation due, partly, to increase in staff at the Presidency, saying there will be increase in “Special Advisers” from 4 to 6, a deputy Secretary General, and allowances alone increasing from D1,402,010 in 2019, to the tune of D14,806,855 in 2020.
“Page 1. In 2020, the government plans to borrow approximately D5.6 billion to finance the budget deficit (D3.9 billion from the domestic market). This represents an increase of 221% from 2019, and the highest level of borrowing ever in the budgetary history of The Gambia, regardless of the re-rebasing of the GDP,” Mr Jawara wrote on facebook on Sunday.
He said also on page 2 of the budget paper on Column 50 (National Debt Service), amid the country’s current high debt distress level, the government is poised to pay a staggering D9.4billion (approximately 37.5% of total tax, loans and grants revenue) on debt services alone.
Mr Jawara said allocation to Agriculture is D394m which accounts for 1.7% of total government revenues compared to 10% as per the country’s commitment to Maputo Declaration of 2003. “Page ii. Allocation to Health is D1.4 billion which accounts for 5.7% of revenues compared to 15% as per our commitment to Abuja Declaration of 2001.”
The plain speaking parliamentarian also observed that the allocations to the Defense and Security sectors combined is D1.7 billion which accounts for 7.3% of revenues compared to 6.8% last year amid the whole crux of the inevitable Security Sector Reform process and World Bank’s Security Sector Personnel Expenditure Review (SPER) recommendations.
“Page 20. The Ministry of Works Development vote has gone up significantly by a whooping D330m. I guess earmarked for the first installment of the Banjul Rehabilitation Project. Now, this is the thing. Every Gambian of a sound mind and sincerity should advocate for the rehabilitation of his/her capital city (ie Banjul). Therefore, I support the initiative of the Banjul Project.”
He however observed that the initiative has to be in line with the law, saying considering that each person in his own constituency (Upper Fulladu West), including 2 months old Sunkary Kanteh in Bantanto and newborn Mayeh in Sare Bakary, has to fork out in their names and blessed souls, a loan of approximately D1000.00 to finance this project, and in the name of his 100,000 constituents or so. “Thus, 100% compliance with the GPPA Act 2014 (tender to ascertain value for money) has to be adhered to for me to support the allocation.”
He said the project must also comply with the Financial Regulations 2014, saying this particular procurement is awarded by the Office of The President in September of 2018 instead of Gambia Public Procurement Authority, thus failing to follow due process.
“Now, under the Expenditure Budget Funding Overview, it is budgeted that we, as a country envisage to receive D8.1 billion in grants. Giving the fact that D9.9 billion was budgeted in 2019, we received zero Dalasi in budget support since 2017. So how realistic is this budget line?”
He said failing to secure these fundings, could mean that the Minister will raise more funds domestically, thus depriving the private sector of the much needed finance and fiscal space. “I think, we need a serious soul searching as citizens of this country and ask ourselves, “Is this budget reflective of the dire needs and aspirations of our people?
Mr Jawara also observed that not just him, but many other Gambians, both home and abroad are concern about the despotic Criminal Offenses (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Media Services Bill 2019, as well as the Draft Constitution, and rightly so.
He concluded by asking the question: What is the relationship of these extravagant expenditure plans to the recommendations of our development partners (ie World Bank, IMF etc)?
Are the anticipated developments going to boost economic activity and employment opportunities giving that the productive sectors like Agriculture especially is very less prioritized? Maybe, I am in a world of my own in view of fiscal indiscipline, but please be your own judge.