The Serrekunda , NAM , Halifa Sallah , in a marathon deliberation stated that every Gambian is accorded the right to access on general terms of equality to public service in The Gambia as stipulated by Section 26 of the Constitution.
He emphasised that the budget session is designed to provide the services needed by the Gambian people.
He said that the domestic revenue, which is mainly from taxation, is estimated to be 13.7 billion dalasis for 2021 while grants are projected to be 12 billion giving a total of 25.7 billion dalasis for 2021.
He said the expenditure is estimated at 31.9 billion dalasis. Hence a country which has 25.7 Billion dalasis but has to spend 31.9 Billion dalasis must have a deficit amounting to 6.2 billion dalssis which would require domestic and external borrowing. He said since the first Republic the country has been relying on a narrow tax base to get revenue to finance Public services. This, he said, has led to perpetual indebtedness.
He said Industry and Services have declined in growth while agriculture has increased a bit to reduce the drop in growth. He said, earnings from exports have declined while expenditure on imports has increased thus leading to trade deficits.
He said the strength of the dalasi against foreign currencies does not depend on foreign exchange earnings from exports but from grants, loans and remittances. He said workers remittances are reported officially to amount to 119 Million dollars or 5950 Million dalasis or 5.9 Billion Dalasis.
He argued the Banks control investment capital but questioned why 1.6 Billion Dollars or 80 Billion Dalasis is exchanged in the foreign exchange market while the Net Foreign Assets of the Banking system is 21.3 Billion Dalasis and their Net Domestic Assets amount to 17 .3 Billion Dalasis. He asked where the 80 Billion Dalasi is going.
He pointed out that the Minister had informed the Assembly that half the Gambian population are living on less than 1 Dollar Twenty-Five Cent a day.
He said the only way to rescue the people from poverty is to create a sovereign wealth Fund which will host pension funds, deposits from Public enterprises, dividends, proceeds from investments in mining , fisheries which could be utilised to give fertilizer , seeds and faming implements to farmers , milling machines to vocational school graduates and Marketing facilities and outlets to vendors and get everyone to work and earn a living.
He said without sovereign wealth fund there will be no self- reliant and self- determined development. This would result in Gambians being born in poverty, growing in poverty, aging in poverty and dying in poverty.