By Nelson Manneh
President Adama Barrow has on Sunday, 26th April disclosed that his Government has set-aside over seven hundred and thirty-four million dalasis (D734,254,864) to support 84% deserving households countrywide.
The President said such support will include rice, oil and sugar to each of the vulnerable households identified.
“Accordingly, we will ensure that support provided to all citizens, especially the vulnerable is real in value. In this respect, following a thorough review exercise, over seven hundred and thirty-four million (GMD 734,254,864) is now available to support 84% deserving households countrywide,” he said.
The President stressed that this money is different from the Five Hundred Million Dalasis (D500 Million) already earmarked for the Ministry of Health to upgrade and sufficiently strengthen the health system to address the COVID-19 challenges and beyond.
“Transparency and accountability form the cornerstone of our governance system. To uphold these principles and guarantee financial discipline and management of the resources available for the pandemic, a single government account has been opened to cater for rapid one-stop financial transactions,” he said.
President Barrow said the distributions and monitoring mechanisms have been put in place involving the relevant institutions and local government authorities. Distribution Points have been identified and vouchers will be used to reach the household beneficiaries with the Government’s Food Support, he said.
“A Donation Committee has already been set up to coordinate all donations regarding COVID-19, and a National Response Coordinator has been identified. This decision is meant to expedite efficient and effective processes in the management and provision of socio-economic support, while keeping the public informed and updated on such processes,” he said.
In partnership with the security agents, Barrow said health response teams and communities along the borders have stepped up surveillance at both official and unofficial entry points, and along the coastal areas. He added that the partnership has resulted to apprehension of some people who sneaked into the country.
“We are aware that about two hundred thousand (200,000) people are engaged in the retail and service sectors. To support this important business community, the tax returns for 2019 have been deferred from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter. In addition, there are ongoing reviews to tease out possibilities to further support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises,” he said.
The President added that another critical measure to control COVID-19 is the restriction on the movement of people through the stay-at-home policy. Notwithstanding this policy, however, Government continues to pay salaries to public servants.
“My government has decided to de-congest the prisons and allow for social distancing. To this end, I have pardoned 121 prisoners with effect from 23rd April 2020,” President Barrow Said.