By Momodou Jarju
It is almost a month since The Gambia registered its first Covid-19 case and the Government is still looking into ways to compensate its citizens especially the most vulnerable during the state of public emergency.
According to lawmaker Ahlagie Mbow, the chairperson of the National Assembly Special Select Committee on the Implementation of the State of Public Emergency Regulations 2020, the finance and economic affairs minister informed them that they are working on modalities aimed at helping the Gambian population as soon as possible.
Mbow said they asked Mambury Njie, the finance and economic minister what relief package the government is coming up with to help the citizens and the minister told them that at the moment, they are working with the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to compile data.
“They are working on the document to compile the data with GBoS and also UNDP and once those data are available, they will try to do it as quickly as possible. Then the government will be in a very good position to say this is how we are going to help the population, because you and I know the vulnerable are actually suffering at this stage and we want to just ensure that something is done to help the entire population,” he said.
Nonetheless, Mbow said the government wouldn’t want to go out there and start distributing without getting proper data.
“The data is actually going to help them. It’s going to guide them on what is actually needed in terms of the cost, in terms of the areas that they need to intervene in this country. But I believe there’s need of intervention across the country and I think all my honorable members with me share the same conviction that this is something that needs to be done and must be done now,” Mbow said.
When asked how soon the data compilation will last, the vice chairperson of the special committee, Dawda Kawsu Jawara, said they understand the dilemma the crisis poses to the country and the citizens.
However, the Upper Fulladu West lawmaker, said in as much as the government is slow in responding to some of the provisions to help the vulnerable people, the health implications is key, which people should bear in mind.
“At the end of the day what is also very much important is that, should you fail to comply or adhere to those regulations? You are posing yourself and other citizens at risk,” he said.
Mr. Jawara said it is a crisis situation and the deadly virus is not waiting for anybody. He said despite things are delayed and people are very eager to know what the government has in plan, in the meantime, people should observe the regulations and measures to make sure they limit the damage, should it hit them hard.
“Just because I don’t have food to eat that’s why I don’t want to comply with laws… is self-inflicting,” he said.
This is the second time the government is telling its citizens that they are still looking into ways of providing compensation mechanism to the affected people.
It could be recalled that the Finance Minister Mambury Njie had barely two weeks ago told Parliamentarians that the Gambia Government was looking into the possibility of providing compensation to vulnerable Gambians amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some lawmakers were unsatisfied with the government statement. One of them was Wuli West lawmaker, Sedia Jatta who argued that the government should have started the preparation since the virus started in late December 2019.