By Yankuba Jallow
Dr Ismaila Ceesay, the leader of Citizens’ Alliance has on Friday unveiled their party’s ten points plan ahead of the December 2021 polls.
“We are promising you that we are going to fulfill our 10 point promise within our first five years and if we don’t, do not give us your votes in 2026 and you should consider us as a failure,” he said.
Dr Ceesay, a political scientist said he is certain that the 10 points promise can be achieved within his first five-year mandate as a President of The Gambia.
Promise 1: CA Government to Build 100,000 Homes?
Dr Ceesay said a CA Government will build a hundred thousand green homes in their first five years for low income earners like journalists, teachers and security personnel among others.
On how they will do it, Ceesay said they are going to use the regulatory power of Government with the effectiveness of the private sector. He said the houses to be built will be decentralized in the country.
He opined that the reason why houses are expensive in the country is because a private developer is the one who buys the land, imports materials and brings in the utility which makes the production cost go high.
“Let’s say we want to build 20,000 homes in CRR. We will engage a private developer who is a young Gambian. Government will provide land and services to make sure they have utilities -water and electricity, give you a tax break for 5 years and give you duty waivers to bring in some of the materials you are going to import into the country. That is going to bring down the production cost. Houses are expensive here because of the production cost,” he said.
He said after building the house, the Government is either going to invest in it or look for private investment.
“We will engage the private bank to provide a mortgage to the police officer so that the bank buys the house and the bank still owns it until after completing the payment [maybe] after 20 years so that the house becomes yours,” he said.
He added: “The [housing] scheme is still being developed and I think [this] is how we are going to do it. We are still talking to experts to guide us right but we are going to do something like that.”
Dr Ceesay said renting in the Gambia is a matter of concern to him adding the fees are “skyrocketing” by almost 200% in this country. He added that this is because the demand for housing has increased in the past years owing to rural-urban migration among other issues. He mentioned that about 60% of the country’s population is residing in the urban area, adding the urban area was not built to have 60% of the population.
He said the demand for houses has increased in the country, adding the housing supply is limited which is causing the high rent fees.
Dr Ceesay said the 100,000 green homes would greatly contribute to the lowering of the pressure on housing in the country. He stated that a CA Government is going to ensure that it starts development from rural Gambia by way of moratorium of development in the urban Gambian.
“Why should we build all the hotels in urban Gambia? All the good hospitals in urban Gambia….. All the good private schools in urban Gambia [and] all the good roads in urban Gambia. No, we [will] reverse it. We [will] build good hospitals, hospitals and roads in rural Gambia. We [will] provide good factories in rural Gambia so that the rural-urban dichotomy is blurred; it does not exist anymore,” Ceesay said.
He explained that a CA Government would regulate rent to ensure it is compatible with people’s earnings adding there will be an increase in people’s salary.
Promise 2: CA to Create 100,000 Jobs
Dr Ceesay said his party is making a commitment to create at least one hundred thousand jobs in their first five years in government. He said the party is also committed to impose a minimum wage in the country during their first five years in government. He stated that a CA Government will expand women access to finance.
He detailed that a CA Government will invest into providing skills training to ensure that there are decent jobs with good pay.
“We are going to provide one hundred thousand jobs across all sectors like sports, arts and creative industry, environment and others,” he said.
How long will it take CA to eradicate unemployment?
Dr Ceesay said there is no country in the world that has eradicated unemployment – not even the big economies like Germany, United States and United Kingdom. He said a CA Government would try its best to keep the unemployment rate as low as possible so that the young people would have gainful employment.
“What we intend to do is to keep it to what is globally accepted which is between 3 and 5 percent. We are not promising to eradicate unemployment in our first five years, but within the five years we will create at least a hundred thousand jobs,” he said.
He said a CA Government would diversify the economy, adding this includes tourism as it is one of the most critical economic drivers of the country. He promised that his party has the plan to diversify the tourism sector and shift away from the traditional view of Gambia as a destination for sand and sea.
“We have a vision to diversify the tourism sector by making sure we build artificial dream parks. We will make sure we make The Gambia a globally competitive tourism destination,” he said.
He said he has plans of introducing a new form of tourism called Conference Tourism by transforming some of the islands like Jinack and Bonto islands into conference islands by building 21st century conference facilities there.
He said a CA Government will invest in game/recreational tourism.
“We have specific plans on how we want to transform the tourism sector to ensure that its potential is tapped to ensure that it contributes a minimum of 30% of the GDP,” Ceesay said.