EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Deputies at the National Assembly, Tuesday continued their sitting on the country’s 2020 appropriation budget that was laid before them by finance minister Mamburay Njie.
During deliberations, several law makers raised issues and concerns that beg for clarity by the finance minister, while others commended him for the deduction made from the initial budget.
Kantora NAM, Billy G Tunkara said government should give attention to irrigation farming and not to depend on only rainfall farming, saying it must come up with policies and programs to enhance irrigation farming to enable the country to attain food self-sufficiency.
“I urge the National Assembly select committee on agriculture to engage government on that and report back to parliament on how far the government has gone in making sure we have yearly round farming, as we cannot continue on only raining season farming. That is not sustainable if we want to alleviate puberty in the country,” he said.
Mr Tunkara said if lands in CRR, URR and other parts of the country are properly utilized, they can provide adequate food for the country. “The government must therefore consider widening our farming scale so that the country could be able to feed itself and not relying on imported food.”
He also dilated on the country’s debt service, saying the minister needs to look at the debt burden as the trend cannot be maintained. He said the budget increment in yearly bases have to be addressed as it cannot be sustained, knowing that the country rely mostly on foreign aid.
National Assembly member for Serrekunda, Halifa Sallah said government needs to wisely consider debt implications on the country when taken loans, noting that many African counties largely rely on loans to implement their development programs, which in the long run would have severe consequences on them.
He urged the finance minister to factor the debt implications as it will reflect on the national budget, saying the debts are to be paid back.
Mr Sallah also deliberated on agriculture challenges, noting that if the country wants address poverty, there must be a cooperative bank to be supported by government to be able to give loans to farmers on low interest.
“There is no policy that addresses land wastage in the country and having a cooperative bank that is set empower our farmers, we would be able to feed ourselves and stop borrowing.”
Story written by Amadou Kanteh