EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: National Assembly Member for Nianija constituency has asked the Ministry of Health to explain to deputies how they spent the resources allocated to them in the 2019 budget.
Amadou Camara was speaking on Thursday at the National Assembly chambers in Banjul, during their debate of the 2020 appropriation budget that was tabled before them by finance Minister Mamburay Njie, last week.
“How was the Ministry’s 2019 budget on health spent? That is something that will interest every National Assembly Member because it’s one thing to prioritise a department, agency or a ministry but if they are not spending based on the priority needs of the citizens, I think it leaves much to be desired for them to be priorities again,” he added.
Mr Camara said every ministry have their indicators based on the National Development Plan, but questioned how they have been doing based on their various indicators.
“If you ask me on the health, I will tell you that the only positive ones they are delivering is still birth deliveries and also immunization services. But if you look at the other indicators, they are not doing well. Let’s look at maternal mortality, we all know that it is not a hidden secret. It is on the increase and definitely that is unacceptable.”
The Nianija representative also observed that the nation should ensure that these things are tackled, adding that they should look at how they allocate the resources to each of the sectors. He said henceforth, they will require the agencies and the ministries to present their expenditures quarterly.
“Henceforth, what we intent to do is at the end of every quarter, we will collaborate with the finance ministry for them to give us the expenditure of each budget line base on the ministries. How have they been spending their allocated resources? We call them on board, discuss with them. Where they are going in the wrong direction, we see how best we can address that rather than waiting until the end of the year and say you are spending too much on travels,” Mr Camara said.
He also said that the budget is not that of the president’s or anybody’s so, if it is bad everybody is affected.
The Nianija NAM added: “What we should do is to come up with positive thinking and ideas and see how best we can make this document one of the best. Everybody is inclusive. But not like pointing fingers. Where we see things are not priorities, where spending is not necessary and not justifiable, we crap it out and put it to somewhere else.”
On non-taxation on rice, the law maker said the free tax on rice is not felt by most Gambians, saying there is tax free on rice importation but has that been felt by Gambians? “There was policy pronouncement that there will be tax free on rice. What is the status on that still? In this 2020 budget, are we still continuing on that? And if so, what impact did it have still? Because speaking on local point of view, of course there is tax free on rich but is it felt by ordinary Gambians?”
Story written by Juldeh Njie