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President Barrow attends maiden African Union Summit

President Adama Barrow on Monday joined colleague African Heads of State attending the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This is his first African Union summit since assuming office in January.

The Summit under the theme “harnessing the demography dividend through investment in youth”, is holding from the 3 to July 4, 2017.

The Summit will examine cross-cutting issues affecting the economies and the opportunities  and options that could be exploited for the continental transformation.

Among other significant and urgent issues to be discussed at the summit includes the continental trade, AU Reforms, Peace & Security, Funding for the AU and the Youth.

President Barrow and delegation arrived in Addis on Sunday.

Gambian-born Standard Chartered Bank Regional CEO re-elected chairman of Kenya Bankers

Members of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the banking industry umbrella body, during the Association’s Annual General Meeting re-elected Mr. Lamin Manjang, Regional CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, as the Chairman of the KBA board of directors. He will serve for the stipulated 12 month term, the Kenyan WallStreet has reported. 

Mr. John Gachora, Group CEO of NIC Bank will continue to serve as Vice Chairperson.

The General Body also welcomed Dubai Islamic Bank as a new member, and marked the Association’s 55th anniversary.

Mr. Manjang was recognised as being instrumental in steering the industry during the period that saw the enactment of the Banking (Amendment) Act, which introduced price controls on bank deposit and loan interest rates.

Notable developments under Manjang and Mr. Gachora’s leadership include greater banking innovation and industry-wide collaboration towards enhanced efficiency of the national payments system. The establishment of Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL) and launch of PesaLink were recognised as the hallmark of their chairmanship. KBA this year unveiled PesaLink as the banking industry’s first, real-time 24/7 peer-to-peer (P2P) digital platform.

Founded in July 1962, KBA is now the leading financial sector advocacy group in East Africa. The general body is now comprised of 48 retail and commercial banks, and micro finance institutions that are licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya. These institutions are represented by their Chief Executive Officers/Managing Directors, who appoint a Governing Council to oversee industry wide activities on behalf of the General Body.

HELLO MR PRESIDENT….

 

The Accidents Are Getting Out of Hand….

Mr President, every now and again, we read in the newspapers about some fatal accident or the other. In the past month alone, I’ve heard about three or four road accidents, some of which were fatal. Our roads are becoming more dangerous than HIV AIDS and Ebola combined! What is the cause of this? How can we minimize death on our roads? What can government do about it?

Theories have it that many of the drivers causing these accidents are either drunk drivers, wrongly licensed drivers or simply children of rich men [sometimes government officials] speeding on our roads without a shred of care as to what their reckless driving causes.

 

Mr President, we cannot continue to lose our people, sometimes the young, on our roads. It is the responsibility of a government to protect its citizenry, sometimes even against themselves. Therefore, it is time we look at the causes and solutions to road accidents. The problem, as the causes shown above suggest, is multidimensional and as such requires a multifaceted solution.

In the first place, I think there should be a massive campaign against indiscipline in the country. Someone drinking and driving is undisciplined. Some government official allowing his or her unlicensed child to drive is undisciplined; a person issuing a licence to an untested driver is undisciplined. So, all these people and the others have to be sensitized so that the indiscipline in the country will be reduced.

The second aspect of the solution has to do with licencing. Licence should not be an issue of revenue collection; rather, it should be looked at as a national security issue. Thus, it will be wrong for the issuing authority to also be the enforcer of the licence. The licencing should be taken away from the police and a new Licencing Authority/Agency constituted.

The Gambia Transport Union should be given the authority and mandate to test prospective drivers and the certify them. With such a certificate from the Transport Union, the prospective drivers will now go to Gambia Revenue Authority who will then authorize the licencing authority to issue a driver’s licence.

The Gambia Police Force/Service will then be given the mandate to enforce the driver’s licence law. In this way, Mr President, we can reduce, if not eradicate completely, the deaths on our roads. Life is sacred and we should do everything to ensure that lives are saved. After all, life is all about saving lives!

Have a Good Day Mr President….

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

Ministry Of Health Fails To Employ Public Health Graduates-Writer Says

 

Dear Editor,

 

What’s happening at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare?

Well, is the ministry of Health and Social Welfare in a limbo to absorb the human resources needed for the service delivery for a better health care for our people? It is almost six months since graduates from the School of Community Health Nursing, School of Public Health and School of Registered Nursing and Midwifery cannot be employed by the ministry which has vowed to deliver better health care to the door steps of every Gambian.

I wonder what the authorities are doing to resolve this issue. The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare claimed to have a directive from the Personal Management Office (PMO) to not employ anyone until January 2018 due to overstaffing. As a matter of fact, the public facilities are in dare need for health workers ranging from nurses to public health officers in all the regions of the country.

As for my little knowledge about financial budgeting, their cannot be any employment for this graduates till January 2018 due to the fact that the budgeting for the next half of the year is said to be exhausted. 90% of this graduates are sponsored by the government and most of them have started applying for private sector employment which is a great loss to the government.

I wonder how the future of the graduates from this three health institutions will look like and how funds spent on them by the government will be wasted. Now is the time for a better decision to be made to avoid this situation. Better late than never, think about it!

From a Concerned Citizen.

President Barrow arrives in Addis for maiden AU Summit

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has arrived in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa where he will attend the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

Accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs Fatoumata Bah-Barrow and senior cabinet ministers, this is the first African Union summit attended by President Barrow since assuming office in January.

The AU Summit under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth”, will hold from July 3rd to July 4th 2017.

The summit will further examine cross-cutting issues affecting African economies and the opportunities and options that could be exploited for continental transformation.

‘Nine Mixed Farming Centres Rehabilitated’—OJ Jallow

 

The Minister of Agriculture, Omar A. Jallow alias OJ has said that his Ministry has rehabilitated nine (9) Mixed Farming Centres fully equipped with working facilities including electricity and water supply in the country.

The Agriculture Minister made these statements on Wednesday at the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2017 legislative year in Banjul.

“Honourable Speaker, the Ministry has rehabilitated 9 mixed farming centres within this year. We are expecting to rehabilitate 2 more. It is our intention to rehabilitate all mixed farming centres throughout the country,” OJ said.

Minister Jallow said the mixed farming centres are the referral hospitals of Agriculture, if they died Agriculture will die in the country. He revealed that plans are underway to reinstate 45 Agricultural employees that were either sacked or dismissed by the former government. He said this will help to facilitate the growth of Agriculture in the country.
“The Ministry has already distributed farming inputs including fertilizers for sale. The price of fertilizer was reduced to D700 Dalasi but I preferred it to be reduced more,” he said.

Responding to questions, Minister Jallow told deputies about the need to go back to the Cooperatives system, saying the Ministry has already formed a committee to look into revitalizing the cooperatives which he said a feedback would be given to the government. He said it will be difficult for the Ministry to deal with individual farmers but instead the farmers need to organize themselves in the form of cooperative system. He said the groundnut seeds were given to farmers in loans but promised that prices would reduce within 2 years, as the government is subsidizing.

Besides, Minister Jallow said he has visited the Jahally/Pacharr rice fields and had discussions with farmers.

“I told them to go back to their lands and informed us how the former President got those lands. As a responsible government, we have to take legal means to get those lands back to their rightful owners,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, he told deputies that the Ministry is taking all steps to provide seeds to the farmers which he said were distributed all over the country.

The Think Tank: My Commendation and Issues!

 

The idea of a think tank emanates from the civil society where a group of professionals or experts would constitute themselves into an institute or an organization to engage in research and advocacy. Such research and advocacy are geared towards generating or focusing on ideas, knowledge, policy and development. Through studies or policy research or development evaluation, think tanks therefore identify new trends, highlight gaps and proffer solutions which are then used by governments, the private sector and indeed any other stakeholder to address challenges and grow. The United States is one country that has made great use of think tanks in building their country into one of the most advanced places on earth.

 

The Gambia National Think Tank (GNTT) is not a private or civil society initiative. Rather it is constituted by the government. In its membership, there are public servants as well as private individuals most of who have had longstanding engagement with the public sector in both the PPP and APRC administrations in various capacities. For example the GNTT Chair Sering Falu Njie once headed the National Planning Commission in 2008/2009 as well as headed the national initiative against poverty, SPACO in 2003 to 2007. Some had served as consultants for various public sector institutions under both the PPP and APRC regimes, while others were former ministers and senior public officeholders. Still others have been active in the private and civil society sectors locally and internationally. This means they have all been active with the Gambia even though we could not produce a free and developed society.

 

That notwithstanding, the members of the think tank are indeed well known and well qualified Gambian experts that can deliver. Their profiles tell us that there is no Gambian who knows the Gambia better or more than these people. Hence they cannot and must not fail the Gambia. They were there when the First Republic failed the people, and they were there when the Second Republic was being built into a regime of blood and tears for Gambians. Therefore Sering Falu Njie and his fellow think tankers must know that Gambians also know them and we are watching.

 

It is important to note that the 19-member group has only four women and one youth, with no professionals from the academia, media, clergy, NGO and farming communities. The terms of reference of the think tank appear not being public yet. But citizens do need to know the terms of GNTT in order to empower the people to know how and on what issues to engage GNTT and above all to hold the think tank to account. In the launching speeches and messages reference was consistently made to national development and good governance. But what do they mean?

 

In light of the above and knowing from where the Gambia has come, it is an understatement to say that this think tank has a huge job on their hands. Not just professionally, but also politically and morally. The making or the breaking of the Gambia has now been placed squarely on the head of Falu Njie and his colleagues. Therefore as adult Gambians who have seen and engaged in the yester years of the Gambia, they have no excuse for not providing the necessary, urgent and unpleasant advice that this country needs. This is a huge opportunity placed on their hands. It is a personal issue as well because they now have the chance to either repair their own individual shortcomings or excesses, if any they have caused the Gambia in the past or make that contribution they could not have been able to do before. Will they live up to expectation? That is the question.

 

In my view the think tank must dedicate itself to the reconstruction of our statecraft into a modern democratic dispensation. The Barrow Administration is a transitional instrument hence it cannot hope to fix all of the myriad social, economic and political challenges the Gambia faces. This administration has taken over from a 22 year regime which practically either undermined or weakened or dismantled each and every national institution hence the broken system we have now. No Gambian must honestly therefore expect that water and electricity supply could be fixed in just three years. No Gambian must think that farmers’ plight could be addressed within three years. No Gambian must think that Barrow can make the prisons top standard immediately or solve waste collection or fix all the roads in Banjul right now.

 

Hence this think tank must think deeply to advise Barrow realistically on what he must focus on and how. It must identify what needs to change and when. This is why I think the best thing this think tank can do is to review our entire legal, policy and institutional environment in terms of the very structure, function and management of the state in order to ensure good governance and sustainable development. In other words, GNTT must be the vehicle for bringing about system change that the country badly needs if it is to survive well into the future.

 

For example, in terms of agriculture, we must bear in mind that since independence the Gambia has been unable to ensure food security and food self-sufficiency. Meantime we had the most intellectuals within the Ministry of Agriculture for decades. They had multiple projects and millions of dollars of funding. Yet since the First Republic, the Gambia imports more food than we produce despite the fact that we have a largely flat and fertile land with incredible amount of water as rain, underground water and River Gambia with adequate labour. Therefore why was it that we could not feed ourselves? This answer lies nowhere but in the kind of policies, laws, personnel and institutions and the kind of political leadership we always had since independence. Just as it is in agriculture, one can find the same explanation for the poor performance in sports, education, community development or energy among other sectors. They all reflect that there was something fundamentally wrong with our state system for which we could not just deliver as we should despite the presence of all the necessary resources.

 

This means therefore that GNTT must be able to identify our challenges as a nation and offer policy solutions. The think tank must realize that it is not the government and it has not partisan political base or objectives. Hence its role must be to offer policy ideas to restructure our management, governance and development systems in terms of ideas, tools, laws and institutions. Policy is a roadmap that leads to a destination. Hence I do not expect the GNTT and Barrow will take the Gambia to its rightful destination or develop this country within three years. Rather I expect that they must establish the right roadmap so that future governments would find in place a structure or system that if they follow will get the country to that desired destination. This, I think should be the fundamental role and contribution of the think tank.

 

In this regard, it is important that the think tank understand the state of affairs in the country and the expectations of the masses. They must exercise clear genuineness and commitment to the country. They must realize that they are not a political action group for Barrow or any other party or individual. They must guard their integrity, independence and credibility and understand that they are now the crafters of a new Gambia. This means the think tank must be ready to produce the right ideas and policies even if unpleasant. They must be prepared to stand their ground against any attempts by Barrow and the government to coerce or compromise them into political expediency in any form. To protect their credibility, the think tank must therefore share its finalized policy solutions and ideas with the general public knowing that ultimately their legitimacy comes from the people of the Gambia.

 

Similarly Barrow and his government must demonstrate to Gambians that they did not form this think tank only for selfish political reasons. They must realize that this think tank is not for the purpose of political expediency intended to secure their future political objectives. Barrow must demonstrate to us that he conceived this think tank out of a deep and genuine concern to build a new Gambia never seen before since independence. This means Barrow must be honest and fair to the think tank to give them the necessary space, resources and respect to do their job. He must be prepared to receive their solutions and demonstrate political will and commitment to implement those solutions. Where he cannot implement any solution he must tell us publicly what are his reasons. He must not allow the government to spend resources on such an initiative only to ignore the product of that initiative.

 

Finally Gambians deserve to know the structure, functions, powers and focus areas of the think tank. The think tank must inform citizens about how to access them. They must create a platform to engage citizens in order to obtain necessary data and ideas. Therefore we expect GNTT to create a website and social media platforms as well as engage in community meetings, organize policy forums and create other places of interactions so that Gambians can share their views and desires for a new Gambia. The business of building the Gambia is the responsibility of all citizens. The good thing about such initiatives is that they create the avenues to have a conversation with all stakeholders. Thus the think tank is an opportunity available to all citizens to contribute their quota to national development. Hence let the think tank open up to the people immediately so that the conversations can start.

 

Kudos to the Barrow Administration! Good luck to GNTT!!

 

God Bless the Gambia.

NIA 9 Case Adjourned For Adoption of Briefs

 

Justice Kumba Sillah Camara of the Banjul High Court has adjourned the criminal trial of the former NIA Director General and others for adoption of briefs after the defense made applications against private lawyers representing the state.

The state was represented by the Prosecutor General Antouman Gaye, Lawyer Sheriff Tambadou, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara, Yasin Senghor and Kombeh Gaye among others.

Lawyer CE Mene, counsel for the first accused (Yankuba Badjie) was not in court but was represented by Lawyer Secka who told the court that he was given brief instructions. He said he was instructed to seek for an adjournment as the lawyer of the first accused person has traveled out of the jurisdiction. He added that he was going to start from where Mene stopped.

The Prosecutor General, Antouman Gaye said he cannot make any sense of what the defense lawyer stated because he made two statements, application for adjournment and a  continuation of the case.

At this juncture, the trial judge told the lawyer whether he wants the court to wait for him because the court cannot wait for anyone, saying the matter was adjourned at the instance of the said counsel (Lawyer Mene). Moreover, the court does not even know when he will be back.

“This is not in the interest of justice, your clients are in the custody and you are delaying the case,” Justice Kumba Sillah Camara said.

The trial judge then questioned the position of the prosecution with regard to the pending application made by the defense. The Prosecutor General told the court that the case in hand is a criminal matter. He said they leave the matter in the legislative hands of the court.

Defense Lawyer Moses Richards urged the court to grant the adjournment applied by his colleague, saying steps are being taken to finalise their applications.

“What steps are being taken? We are kept in the dark. This is the second adjournment,” trial judge pointed out.

Lawyer Edu Gomez representing the former NIA Deputy Director General said the matter before the court is a high profile case that has captured the attention of everyone in the country and outside world.

“This will be a fragrant violations of the constitutional rights of my client,” Lawyer Edu Gomez submitted.

Lawyer Gomez referred the court to section 24 of the 1997 constitution. He said the lawyer of the first accused should properly informed the lawyer who was holding briefs for him. He calls for a speedy trial within a reasonable time.

Subsequently, the trial judge ordered for the defense to file their summons within 7 days. The matter was adjourned to  July 18, 2017, for adoption of briefs.

Amadou Samba clears the air about Panama Papers saga

 

Gambian top businessman, Amadou Samba, has broken the silence over the alleged $900 million offshore account “wrongly” linked to him in a publication dubbed the Panama Papers, which was compiled by a global network of investigative journalists looking into illicit financial flows around the world.

In an interview last evening, Mr Samba said he never had such amounts in any offshore accounts.

“I only have an offshore company called Amasa Holding Company which was specifically registered in the UK for a property business I was engaged in. It was based in the Virgin Islands,” Samba said.

Panama Papers reported that they found amounts held in three separate accounts all in the name of companies registered under Amadou Samba’s name, but not the $900 million as reported by some media.

That amount was related to activities of Mossbank Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm and corporate services provider reputed to be the world’s fourth biggest provider of offshore financial services.

“The figure of $900 million cited by the media is incorrect,” Khadija Sharife, Panama Paper’s Africa editor based in South Africa, said in an email conversation she had with this reporter in November 2016.

The Panama Papers is a 11.5 million leaked document that detail financial and attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities.

Editor Khadija said the said figure of $900 million should not be used in connection with the Panama Papers for The Gambia.

“While that figure may be the illicit flow from the country, this project did not look at illicit flows from each country in totality. It only looked at the evidence provided in data relevant to the activities of Mossbank Fonseca,” she said.

Mr Samba maintained that linking him to the said figure was incorrect.

“The Amasa Holding Company in the UK was mainly for property business I was engaged in but it has been closed since the completion of that business years ago,” he said.

According to one of the editors who took part in compiling the papers and sorting tons of data in the project, “the only evidence on The Gambia that emerged was related to one individual who purchased property in the UK using a shell company”.

“Other means and companies unrelated to Mossbank Fonseca is likely responsible for the overall illicit flows from Gambia,” they said.

An economic and financial analyst, Sidi Sanneh, said The Gambia is not the only country that is shown to have its citizens operating offshore accounts in tax heavens. Prominent Senegalese businessmen are among those listed as operating accounts offshore. The difference between them and the Gambian businessmen listed is their forthrightness.

“The Senegalese businessmen listed in the Panama Papers were quick to respond to the revelation by explaining the rationale for these accounts which, according to one, was to legally reduce or eliminate further exposure to higher tax liabilities. To some, this is unethical or unpatriotic. To others it is a smart business move. In short, one man’s tax dodger is another man’s astute businessman,” Sanneh wrote in a blogpost in May 2016.

Source: Point Newspaper

Are police, prosecutors looking for GDC NAM?

 

Judicial sources have intimated to The Standard that state prosecutors and police are looking for Demba Sowe, the National Assembly Member for Niamina West.

Sowe is reportedly wanted after his failure to answer to charges of conspiracy and making false document for which he was jointly charged with five others at the High Court in Banjul since 2015.
Mr Sowe was granted police bail and since not been appearing before the court to answer to the charges against him despite a bench warrant for his arrest issued earlier.

A few weeks ago, The Standard interviewed the parliamentarian but he flatly denied standing trial and described allegations leveled against him as “unfounded rumours” being peddled by his political opponents.

“I am not standing any trial as far as I know. I know for sure that a few years ago while I was working for a shipping company called B&KK, I was along with my boss and others reported to the police and later charged with theft following a complaint by one Muhammed Tunkara and others. However, we were all acquitted by the court and since then, I have never been charged or a subject of any trial,” Sowe earlier told The Standard over the phone.

However, when the case came up yesterday before Justice Zainab Jawara-Alamy who took over the case from Justice Simone Abi, the state counsel Mansour Jobe applied for a summon of notice to be served on the sureties of Oumie Saffiatou Jallow to show cause why bail bond should not be forfeited. Counsel argued that he was not aware of any reason for her absence in court and the application was granted by the court.

The presiding judge at that point adjourned the matter to August 3 when the sureties of Oumie Saffiatou Jallow are expected to appear before the court to show cause why bail bond should not be forfeited.
In a widely published case in 2015, Sowe was named alongside other persons namely, Ebrima Kebbeh, Oumie Saffiatou Jallow, Sheikh Dawda Yorke, Alpha Kanté and Kemo Fatty for conspiring among themselves to deceive Mr Muhammed Tunkara, a Gambian based in the UK and his partner by collecting US$161,000 equivalent to D6, 273, 000 on the pretext that they were going to sell 50kg of gold valued at US$1.5 million to them.

They were further accused of making a false document of 50 kilograms of gold dust from Guinea Conakry, which they knew was false. They all denied the charges.

The Standard has also learnt that Justice Abi, the then presiding judge, gave an order back in 2015 for the arrest of Mr Sowe and one Alpha Kanté after they failed to appear in court.
However, Sowe maintained that he had never been called or tried in any court over this matter since his acquittal and discharge by a magistrates court.

Source: Standard Newspaper

 

National think tank finally launched

 

A 19-member national think tank, an apolitical and multi-disciplinary expert body selected to create policy direction for the government, was launched yesterday.

The think tank is tasked to help facilitate the development and reform agenda of the new Coalition government. The body comprising prominent experts in various fields will work from State House under the Office of the Vice President and will look at dozens of areas the new government wants to develop in line with its principles of good governance and democracy.

Speaking at the launching, Minister Fatoumatta Tambajang, overseer of the Office of the Vice President who represented President Barrow, said Gambians have voted for change and installed a government that must now solve its problems and rejuvenate a dying economy left by the APRC’s “repressive” regime.
“This expert body will help my government and the private sector to collectively address the brain-drain in the public, private and civil society sectors,” Tambajang said.

She said the members will advise government in policy areas and also validate the 3-year national development plan for Barrow’s transitional government.

 

“Gambian’s have decided for change; a change that must bring solutions and rejuvenate our dying economy and failed policies,” she said adding that the change must ensure the transformation of our political educational and social system to promote our values as one people with a history and identity through engaging our local communities for nation building.

“I am proud to say that the national think tank initiative is the first of its kind in The Gambia and it represents the political vision and commitments of the Coalition 2016 government to harness and maximise the integration of an invaluable ingredient in our new Gambia for sustainable development.”

According to her, President Barrow’s commitment is aimed at fulfilling his campaign promise to Gambians, which is to bring all Gambians on board and provide them with equal opportunities in rebuilding a new Gambia through a new development paradigm, “a process in which most Gambians were deprived from participating meaningfully over the past 22 years of the APRC repressive rule”.

Abdoulie Touray, a prominent economist and member of the body said the formation of the think tank is a departure from the past when such bodies are mostly set up by the private sector. He expressed his hope that with the new body, the persistent problem of implementation of ideas and proposals will be greatly improved.

The 19 members of the body are:

Dr Ahmad Tijan Jallow, a consultant, of Bijilo; Abdoulie Touray of Sahel Investment, Kanifing South; Abdou Njie, former governor of Central Bank; Dr Mariama Sarr of Kotu; Dr Kujay Manneh of Kanifing Estate; Dr Siga Jagne of Fajara; Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member; Fafa M’Bai, lawyer; Mambury Njie; James Oreme Monday; Sidi Sanneh; Mamour Jagne; Dr Ayo Palmer; Dr Tumani Corrah; Mr Lamin Darboe of the National Youth Council; MS Jeng; Bai Mass Taal; Dr Ebrima Sall; and Mr Kemo Conteh.

Source: Standard Newspaper

 

Former President Jammeh’s Four Presidential Aircrafts Up For Sale

 

Gambia Government is expected to sell four presidential planes of the former President Yahya Jammeh who ruled the country with iron fist for the past 22 years. Jammeh later lost elections to Adama Barrow in the last presidential polls in December 1, 2016.

The revelations about Jammeh’s aircrafts was made by the country’s Finance Minister during the presentation of the Government Budget to the National Assembly in Banjul.

“Asset sales are expected to yield D471 Million in 2017. These include the 4 Presidential planes, and sale of land, including those in prime tourism development areas which could generate investment,” Minister of Finance Amadaou Sanneh said.

The Finance Minister explained some of the measures taken so far by the new government which includes expenditure cuts of D475 Million mainly in goods and services, including from the budget of the Office of the President. He spoke about the policies governing the bloated vehicle fleet and its cost will be reformed, with expected savings in spending on goods and services in the tune of D942 Million. He also spoke about recapturing previously diverted non-tax revenue from the international voice gateway.

“Plans are underway to vigorously pursue recovery of stolen assets of the government through all available channels, including the assistance of the World Bank Stolen Assets Recovery Unit,” Sanneh pointed out.

Minister Sanneh also talked about  removing the rent-seeking nature of fuel supply to NAWEC to better manage its cost of production. He added that the gradual monthly reduction of pump price of fuel at the petrol stations aimed at passing on the gains from the reduction in international oil prices which should have impact on transportation cost among others.

“This new administration intends to prioritise macroeconomic stability with emphasis on addressing the burgeoning debt situation by instilling fiscal discipline,” Minister Sanneh asserted.

He added: “This revised budget has a total financing gap of D955 Million, compared to the D4.7 Billion Budget that was previously approved in December 2016.”

Meanwhile, the Minister has submitted the revised estimates, recurrent and development expenditures for fiscal year 2017, for consideration and approval by the National Assembly.

Finance Minister Delivers Budget Amendment Bill

 

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Amadou Sanneh has today moved the ‘Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill 2017’which is a presentation of The Government’s budget to the National Assembly in Banjul.

“I would like to submit for consideration and approval by the National Assembly the Revised Estimates of Revenues, Recurrent and Development Expenditures for the Fiscal years 2017,” Minister of Finance Amadou Sanneh stated.

Minister Sanneh said it is a  constitutional requirements for the president to instruct the Minister of Finance to prepare and submit to the National Assembly at least 30 days before the end of each Financial Year, the Estimates of Revenues and Expenditures of The Gambia for the following year. He said the estimates shall be submitted directly to the President by the Chief Justice or any other authority for presentation by the President to the National Assembly. He added that the National Assembly needs to appoint, temporarily or permanently, a small core of technical staff to assist in gathering information, making research and analysis on issues pertinent to its deliberations and resolutions on the Budgets submitted to it by the Minister.

“Honourable Speaker, with a new Government in place, and renewed enthusiasm, we are submitting a revised budget to this parliament in order to address the dire macro-economic situation this administration has inherited,” he asserted.

Minister Sanneh highlighted the economic casualties inherited from the former government which includes an abuse of State-Owned Enterprises like GAMTEL, SSHFC, NAWEC, etc, through the embezzlement of funds to the tune of D4.7 Billion within a space of 3 years. He spoke about 9.0 Billion debt portfolio for NAWEC with aging fleet of generators and unsustainable operational cost. He spoke about the poor agricultural policy, siphoning of royalties from the mining sub-sector and purchase of 44 pickup vehicles by the government for APRC party in 2011.

He also talked about the depletion of the domestic foreign reserves to less than 2 months of future imports together with a ballooning of public debt from 83.3 percent to 120.3 percent of GDP between 2013 and 2016.

 

Meanwhile, the motion was seconded by Honourable Kebba K. Barrow, Majority Leader and Member for Kombo South. The National Assembly Finance Committee is expected to research and analyze issues pertinent to its deliberation and resolutions on the Budgets submitted by the honorable Minister.

AfDB Appoints Gambia’s Oley Dibba as Director Human Capital, Youth & Skills Development

 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced the appointment of Ms. Oley Lucretia Clara Dibba-Wadda as Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development with effect from July 1, 2017.

A citizen of the Republic of The Gambia, Ms. Dibba-Wadda is a social development executive and strategic analyst with over 20 years of leadership and management experience. She is an expert in African and international policies on education, gender equality and youth development.

“Oley is a well-respected leader in the field of education and her leadership has been inspiring in mobilizing African decision makers to focus on human capital and youth development on the continent. Her extensive experience, passion and commitment to the education of girls and skills development for the youths, will help advance the Bank’s focus on building Africa’s workforce of the future and creating jobs for the youths,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB.

 

Before her appointment, she was the Executive Secretary of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) – a pan-African Institution (hosted by the African Development Bank). She had earlier worked as the Executive Director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a pan-African organization for promoting the education of girls across sub-Saharan Africa. She had also worked as the Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) – an Africa-wide organization on women, peace and security in Africa.

Ms. Dibba-Wadda has held several other management and advisory roles in various international development agencies, including Oxfam, Great Britain, the Commonwealth Education Fund and Concern Universal. She is a Global Ambassador for 10X10 and Concern Universal and chairs and sits on several Advisory Boards and Committees.

A certified life coach, Ms. Dibba-Wadda has over the past 19 years been providing coaching and mentoring support on emotional life skills to several youths across the African continent. She is the founder of the Gam Africa Institute for Leadership (GAIL) in The Gambia and a strong advocate and champion for youth development in Africa.

In recognition of her exemplary contribution towards human development, she was awarded the “Inspiring Woman of Excellence” in 2012 and the “African Woman Leadership” in 2013. She was one of the nominees for the “2017 New African Woman in Education.”

She holds a Master’s degree in Gender Analysis in Development from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and a Diploma in Gender and Development.

Source: AfDB Websit

“PLEASE HELP US CONVEY OUR PROBLEMS TO THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES FOR A SOLUTION” An Africell Staff

 

Dear Editor,

 

My colleagues and I have been working for Africell (call center) for many years before being it was outsourced to 24/7 Call center. We first went on a 6 months’ probation with them. After the 6 months, we were offered very rediculous contracts. The contract was so bad that we were never given the time to read the full contract nor givena copy of it. We were told to either sign or leave. We had no option but to sign because we all know how hard it is to acquire a job.

 

On December 1, 2014, we were given our confirmation letters as full time staff for the 24/7 Call Center. (See copy of it attached, the name is sealed to hide the identity). We have been working as staff since then.

 

On 12th June, 2017, to our total dismay we were given another contract paper to sign which we could not understand why we should sign a contract when we are already confirmed as staff of the company. The funniest thing is the contract is dated January 1, 2017, which we were never informed about.

 

So as thing are we want the relevant Authorities to help us address or answer the following because when we tried to ask them to address some of our concerns they said we either sign or failure to do so means we reject it meaning we’ve lost our jobs.

 

1. Is there anywhere in our Labour Laws that says after employees are hired they can sign a temporary contract. Because according to the new contract we are now on temporary employment (See copy of the contract too)

 

2. Can an employer put an employee on probation without their consent until the last month of the probation as it is in our case?

 

3. Is it possible to go on leave while on probation because since January 1, 2017, staff whose leave was due have been going on leave every 15 days of every month. As we are writing this piece some are still on leave and were called to come and sign their contracts.

 

4. We want to know who came up with this decision if it is Amie Singhateh Mbye, The Manager of 24/7 call centre who also doubles as the wife of Mr Badara Mbye MD Africell. What also doubt us is, they said the call center is outsourced but until now afrcell is paying our salaries and electricity bills of the complex, and even if a bulb is blown out, it is africell that will fixes it. Which makes the outsource issue questionable.

 

We put our concerns to you with the hope that someone out there will take a step to remedy the situation. We all voted for change with the believe that the new dispensation will help stop the injustices that we are facing at our work places.
We have suffered a lot at africell and nothing has ever been done about it.

 

Note: Whatever is written in this piece is nothing but the truth. We are fasting and will never write lies in this holy month of Ramadan.

 

And we will be coming up with more damning revelations about George Khairallah (one of the heartless Lebanese that is in charge of the call center) and Mr Badara Mbye for all the dirty business day are doing.

WHAT IS HOLDING A FOREIGN INVESTOR TOSKANI PHARM GAMBIA LTD FROM BEING FULLY OPERATIONAL AFTER TEN YEARS IN THE COUNTRY? ARE THEY BEING TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT? THE COALITION GOVERNMENT SHOULD FIND OUT

 

It has come to my knowledge that Toskani Pharma Company Gambia Ltd based in Brikama came to the Gambia almost ten years ago; [since September 2006] with the intention of investing in manufacturing of drugs for the health sector. They have established a factory in Brikama where samples of the drugs they wanted to deal in were produced. The samples were said to have been sent to Ministry of Health who sent them to Geneva for testing to ascertain their authenticity. The result was said to be positive, meaning the drugs are real and not fake drugs. The company was since then awaiting to be issued with a production and sales license to be fully operational.

 

This company on few occasions was given temporal license for production without sales license which means that they can only produce the drugs but can’t market them in the country. There is a chronic shortage of drugs in our health facilities which was inherited from the APRC regime of Yahya Jammeh. This could have been prevented and or addressed if the then regime which always claimed the health sector to be its top priority area assisted and encouraged Toskani Pharm Gambia Ltd fulfill all its set out criteria’s for production and marketing.

 

The company by now could have gone into the production of all the essential drugs required in our health facilities. Simple drugs like intra venous fluids such as Sodium Chloride injection, Ringers Lactate Solution for injection, 5% Dextrose injection etc which are used on most of the patients admitted in our health facilities would not have been imported into the country by now. The cost of most of the essential drugs could have been less and affordable by ordinary Gambians.

 

The Barrow coalition government should find out why this company could not take off ten years since its arrival into the country. Let them ascertain that there is no one or interest groups [especially those already engaged in pharmaceutical business in the country] trampling them underfoot for selfish interests at the expense of the masses.

 

By Abu Hamza

Hajj Commission briefs President on readiness for 2017 Hajj

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Fajara, 28 June 2017–The Barrow administration is to develop a policy to guide the liberalization of Hajj travel arrangements by 2018. This emerged from a meeting this week between President Barrow and members of The Gambia’s Hajj Commission, who called on him at his office in Fajara. The Amir ul-Hajj, Dr. Ousman Jah, briefed the President on the level of preparedness for the 2017 Hajj.

President Barrow commended The Gambia Hajj Commission for its management of Hajj matters but expressed surprise that that after so many years of existence, it had not sought to sit with the former Head of State to discuss issues affecting 95% of the population.

The President pledged to work with institutions like the Gambia Hajj Commission and the Supreme Islamic Council to provide the support that they need. He called on the religious leaders to promote peaceful coexistence, and said the selection of Commission members should always be based on their qualifications and experience in Hajj matters.

Dr. Jah said it was a requirement of the Saudi authorities that each country must have a Hajj commission to avoid political interference in the management of the Hajj. He explained that the Saudi government worked through diplomatic missions and that logistical issues were arranged through Hajj Commissions.

He added that it was government policy that guided the implementation of the Hajj exercise. Saudi Arabia, Dr. Jah said, determined each country’s quota per population at 1000 pilgrims per 1million population. This year The Gambia has received an allotment for 1700 pilgrims and 20 officials from the Hajj Commission which includes Gambia International Airline staff and health officials to facilitate the administration of the Hajj.

The Amir ul-Hajj also gave an account of the various steps taken to improve the management of the Hajj, including use of new technology for the relevant transactions with the Saudis.

The ten-man commission took the opportunity to appeal for the government support to provide logistics to facilitate the work of the Commission.

Commission member Imam Baba Leigh called for government to support the Commission’s endeavour to provide the very best for Gambian pilgrims, and to improve the country’s image.

The Hajj is one of five pillars of Islam that are obligatory for Muslims who can afford it at least once in a lifetime.

Fourth Cabinet meeting focuses on Finance and Economic Affairs, Fisheries and Security matters

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Fajara, 28 June 2017 –Finance and economic affairs, fisheries and security took precedence at the Barrow administration’s fourth cabinet meeting today.

Led by President Adama Barrow, Cabinet reviewed progress on the four priority areas from its last meeting a fortnight ago, namely communication, energy, infrastructure, agriculture and education. Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Amadou Sanneh spoke to his colleagues about the global challenges discussed at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington earlier in the year, and their implications for The Gambia. They covered such issues as inflation, debt and unemployment.

Minister Sanneh also briefed his colleagues on the USD15 million support available to improve livestock rearing, energy and the promotion of healthcare service from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). He said this was part of the new IDB strategy to help member countries address their challenges.

The Minister explained that the African Development Bank (AfDB) was also using a similar strategy to support African countries, focusing on five critical areas, all of which resonated with The Gambia’s development needs. They are: electricity, food security, industrialisation, regional integration and improving people’s quality of life.

The Cabinet also discussed several agreements presented by the Finance Minister. They related to financing for integrated financial management information system (IFMIS) and the results for education achievement and development projects; the Airport improvement project phase II.

End

Mayor Yankuba Colley Calls For The Reopening Of The Bakoteh Dumpsite

 

The Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council and Former Ruling APRC National Mobilizer, Yankuba Colley has called on the government to reopen the Bakoteh Dumpsite after it was closed by individuals who claimed to be managing the place.

 

Colley said the closure of the dumpsite was not ordered by the municipal authorities but it was just some people taking advantage of the new dispensation with the intention of staging a demonstration around the Bakoteh Dumpsite. “They have closed the dumpsite till date,” Mayor Colley lamented.

 

The KMC Mayor urged the new government to intervene to reopen the place for the interest of the people of the municipality, saying there is no dumpsite and people are dumping at unauthorized places in the municipality. He said all previous efforts of the former government to partner with the international bodies to take charge of the dumpsite has failed to succeed.

 

Alkalo of Manjai, Mommodou Salieu Gomez said he was not informed about the closure of the dumpsite. He said all the gabarge that are collected in the Kombos are at dump at Manjai. He added that the closer of the site is not bad as its affect the livelihood of the populace living in Manjai.
“All the wells in Manjai are polluted and are banned for drinking. The dumpsite has caused many sicknesses that are related to environmental health problems,” Alkalo Gomez lamented.

 

The Alkalo said there was a feasibility study at the place. He denied allegations that he does not support the closure of the dumpsite, saying he has not spoken to any government official regarding the reopening of the dumpsite.

 

Meanwhile, residents and business owners in the municipality are complaining about the uncollected garbage around the market and public places particularly in the rainy season.

A SWEDISH DRAMA TEACHER URGES GAMBIANS TO BURY TRIBALISM

 

Dear All,

I know once again some of you would be asking the obvious question: ‘What on earth has
any toubab to do with our social problems?’ My answer is: A lot. What happens in Gambia
affects me, not only because globalization has compressed the world, but because I have
been a keen observer of Gambia’s socio-political development.

Tribalism was once an issue in Europe, leading to brutal wars among nations. But as soon
as Europeans realized that the issue of tribalism is eating away the very foundation of our
peace and democracy, we tried to bury it deep. So tribalism is not an African problem; but
Africa has chosen to make it a weapon to destruct one another.

Gambia has always been relatively peaceful, but undemocratic. However, with the
transition to a full democracy, a lot of Gambians have armed themselves with tribal
trademarks. What this does is to slow down the development process of the country, and
blind the people to not be able to speak truth to politicians. This is similar to the cultural
effects that produced Yahya Jammeh.

I strongly believe that the new government is not organized to support and favor only one
tribe; it aims to represent all tribes, no matter what happens in the last twenty-two years.

A long time ago we had tribalism here, too. People from the middle of Sweden were
treated better when compared to those from the south. If a boy from one village sneaked
out in the middle of the night to court a girl from another village he could even be caught
and killed by the young men from the girl’s village.

That was the tradition. Sweden wasn’t even one country at that time, it was split in several
smaller kingdoms and each of them had their own king. All these kings and their soldiers
fought for more power, more land and they married women to get more land and by that
more power. Marriage had nothing to do with love, only families who could become useful
to each other. When Sweden or Europe in general, realized that in order to develop as a
people they had to put away their tribal differences, then everyone became open to the idea
of cosmopolitanism. People became more open to exotic cultures by intermarrying. Today
there are thousands of mixed kids in Sweden whose mothers or fathers are Gambians. The
father of Sweden’s Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, is a Gambian.

What does all this tell us: Gambians have to move on to decommission their mindsets. For
more than twenty years I have been observing Gambian politics, but never in the past

decades have we seen such a huge tribal commotion as we have seen in the past months
since Mr. Adama Barrow came to power. This is not the fault of the government. Gambians
have to choose what type of political culture they want to cultivate: a tribal one where
people are castigated for speaking truth to politicians or a rich political culture where
everyone’s opinion is equally respected? The earlier you decide, the better, because it is
2017, and the effects of globalization are rendering tribalism obsolete.

The purpose of this letter is not to tell Gambians to forget about their culture and tribes.
No! But people need to understand that time has changed and so has traditions. By that, I
mean keep what is good and forget the rest. Keep the myths, keep the pride, and keep your
language. Teach your children a sense of self respect but also respect for others. The rants
on Facebook and Whatssap are bad omens for a country of about two million.

To the young generation of Gambians (I called them the Facebook generation), I am
heading to my sixth decades on earth; so I am speaking from experience: tribalism doesn’t
get you anywhere. There is no Mandinka Gambia; no Fula Gambia; no Wollof Gambia; no
Serahuleh Gambia; no Jola Gambia; no Manjago Gambia; no Aku Gambia; and there is no
Serer Gambia. There is only one Gambia – a small oyster where all of you have to
accommodate each other.

Eid Mubarak! And my Salibo 

Pirjo Andersson

pirjo_andersson_diallo@hotmail.se