By Yankuba Jallow
Essa Mbye Faal, the only independent candidate running for the December 4th presidential elections on Wednesday, 10th November launched his blueprint/manifesto to Gambians.
Faal’s campaign slogan is “Turn Around” and “Sobeya” in Mandinka.
The manifesto has 13 areas of thematic areas of focus. They are; Fighting Endemic Corruption, Revive the Economy, Elevate Education Standards, Appropriate Infrastructure Transformation, Youth Orientation Programme, Transform the Agricultural Sector, Revive the Healthcare System, Information and Communication Technology, Women’s Empowerment, Security Sector Reform, Public Service Reform, Diaspora Engagement and Protecting the Environment.
Essa Faal, a former Lead Counsel of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) said his blueprint is a practical action plan for what he called “National Turn Around.”
He said he is committed to turn around the country towards doubling the GDP per capita in 10 years and double youth employment in 5 years. He added that he is committed to meritocracy and social mobility for all Gambians. Also, he said he is committed to inclusive, responsible and sustainable development.
Faal said his Government will not tolerate theft, corruption and waste of resources. He added that he is going to fight poverty, retrogression and indignity in the country. He promised to ensure that there is effective and efficient service delivery and motivated workers by increasing their salary. He says his Government will depart from the dysfunctional culture of begging and dependency on foreign aid and charity.
He said the “Turn Around” will not be a task for President Essa Mbye Faal (if elected) and Team Essa Mbye Faal alone; it will be the vocation of every Gambian.
Faal stated that the destiny of The Gambia is not one of poverty, mediocrity and hopelessness adding this is why the “Turn Around” will ensure young men and women fulfil their aspirations.
What is Needed for the “National Turn Around”?
Faal said knowledge, ability and finances alone are not enough for the “National Turn Around”. He said the country need to confront our failures and admit that a ‘system change’ is imperative.
“This is why our Action Plan for National Turn Around is based on three fundamental principles: addressing the challenges of our people, our institutions and creating a motivated Gambia.
What will Essa Faal do in his First 100 Days in Office?
Faal said in the first 30 days of his Government shall lay foundation for a new Gambia, anchored on the unbending principles and values of transparency, human rights and rule according to law.
He said in his first 100 days he will expedite the enactment of the long overdue Anti-corruption Bill, reinstate the Draft Constitution 2020, expedite the enactment of the Elections Bill 2020, accept and implement all the recommendations and findings of the TRRC, review the Commission findings and recommendations of the Security Sector Reform, establish a Prison Taskforce to undertake a comprehensive review of prison conditions and establish a Hospital Taskforce to undertake a comprehensive review on the state of all hospitals, clinics and other health facilities countrywide.
How to Fight Corruption?
He said he will fight corruption first by enacting the Draft Anti-corruption Bill, and establish a permanent Anti-corruption Commission that will spearhead the fight against official corruption. Also, he said his Government will pay frontline workers and lower grade employees in the Civil Service liveable wages, which will allow public servants to earn incomes that can provide a decent standard of living for their families. He added that he will enforce a zero tolerance policy on corruption and government waste, to mitigate the destructive effects of official graft that
holds back socio-economic development. He promised to Implement an effective verifiable Income and Asset Declaration policy for public employees, to guard against abuse of public office for personal gain. Finally, he said he will prosecute cases of official corruption and impose stern penalties to act as both a deterrent and legal sanction.
How He Intends to Revive The Economy
Faal said he will ensure that he stimulate the national economy to make it more business friendly and encourage investors to do business in the Gambia.
“This would be achieved by changing the “way of doing business dynamics” to a more “investor friendly environment” in addition to fighting corruption and waste.
He added that harmonisation and simplification of Fiscal, Tax and Monetary policies respectively. He said the latter should include a policy on Financial
Institutions (especially commercial banks) lending to the private sector as opposed to investments in T-Bills.
“This would spur economic growth and productivity,” Faal said.
He said his Government will ensure the digitization of the financial system to curb official corruption, increase government revenue procurement system.
Lawyer Faal said he will modernise fiscal discipline particularly promoting more independence of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) to drive policy and not be dictated to.
Finally, he said he will ensure that he institutionalise diaspora bonds with attractive incentives to drive participation. He said he will introduce favourable terms and conditions including interests, withdrawals, in accordance with the peculiar needs of our citizens abroad.
Others can be found in Faal’s Turn Around blueprint.