By: Kebba AF Touray
Member for Banjul North Ousman Sillah Monday informed his fellow lawmakers that the country is indebted to the tune of between 69 to 70 million dalasi.
He said this during the debate on the budget estimate 2020 at the National Assembly.
He said: “Despite this, I have not seen any efforts made by the executive towards reducing this colossal sum, but instead the executive is bent on contracting more loans that would increase this loan portfolio.”
He said governance, management of the economy and service delivery to the citizenry are challenges for the country, adding that it is important to focus on these sectors with the objective of addressing the challenges in those sectors.
He tasked the current administration to launch a crusade towards ensuring that the government moves away from contracting loans and grants and invest in the productive sectors of the economy.
Sillah emphasized: “These are three challenges of the government and the executive should take note and do its utmost to address these challenges. We should rationally look into this and provide remedies. The upkeep of the State House and the Office of the Vice President are in the tune of 20 and 3 million dalasi”.
He recommended for Parliament to look at the budget lines for the State House and the Office of the Vice President, adding that what is budgeted for the two offices is staggering and over the mark.
He remarked: “We can make enough savings and divert it to other sectors such as health and agriculture, as well as reduce lending.”
He said there are challenges with the health sector, regarding utilization and prioritization of resources and utilities and stressed that they will be engaging the sectors on quarterly basis in conjunction with the Finance Ministry, with a view to ascertain how much has been requested from the Finance Ministry and how much has been released as per the budget allocation and where it has been spent.
He urged the government to take the lead role and encourage the private sector to ensure that investment is made to empower young people as well as development of the informal sector, to ensure budget sustainability and reduce the trend of contracting loans and grants for national development.
He said: “Forty -two percent of the GLF is being committed in debt servicing, this amount could have been committed to the agricultural sector to boost its budget allocation from 2 percent to a bigger percentage to maximize production as well as empower the sector”.