By Lamin Njie
Members of the National Assembly on Thursday overwhelming rejected the government’s controversial supplementary appropriation estimates.
The Gambia government through Finance Minister on Tuesday asked the country’s lawmakers to approve over one billion dalasis in estimates to cater for the shortcomings of the already approved 2018 budget.
Members of the national assembly on Thursday threw out the estimates because they did not come to the house four months prior to the end of the fiscal year and that they have exceeded 1% of the budget.
Halifa Sallah-National Assembly Member for Serrekunda speaking at the plenary said that the law says the SA should come to the parliament next year.
“We cannot continue to encourage financial indiscipline…we serve the National interest…,” he said.
“If you look at the reasons advanced by the minister that is contained in the submission of FPAC (Finance and Public Accounts Committee), if one has to relate that to the parent submission by the minister, the aspect that has been added has no point to be justified even whereas it has been observed by the FPAC. But the minister’s reasons are not holding water on the basis of submitting these supplementary estimates,” national assembly member for Brikama North Alhagie Darboe said.
The national assembly member for Upper Fulladu West Sanna Jawara urging his colleagues to join him in rejecting the bill said the law was not followed.
He said: “Estimates are made and approved and once approved that is the ceiling as to hw far you can go. But in the same estimates as alluded to by my friend from Upper Saloum. We have put in centralized service with 1,060, 000, 000 just in case of emergencies. So therefore there are funds for emergencies but what is emergency in this case? Twenty-nine million dalasis on a private jet to New York is not an emergency to me. So that money spent there shouldn’t be spent.
“I have looked at all the breakdowns, there is no CRC here and we are told when we were approving the CRC and TRRC [bills] that these are going to be funded by our development partners. That we would approve these commissions but the government would go out to seek for funding. Contingency funds is allow if we have given the president the approval but only up to one percent of the budget but this 1.2 billion dalasis do represents six percent which is way beyond what is acceptable.
“We are a broke nation, we cannot go on spending the way we are spending. So if we are in line with those reform programs we should keep in that reform programs because this is a transitional government, not to a government that is here to pursue infrastructural developments that we cannot afford. That’s political.”
Meanwhile the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs calling on the lawmakers to reconsider their decision said “either we solve the problem today or we solve it tomorrow.”
“If anybody is to be blamed it’s me because I have taken the decision to come to the national assembly for transparency, to reveal to you exactly this is the reality on the ground. Whether we solve it today or whether we solve it tomorrow or whether we solve it day after tomorrow it will always come back to hunt us,” Mamburay Njie told the lawmakers.
He added: “Yes the law allows us to roll over and when I took over I found that some of these things have been rolling over and over and over. And in our mindset I decided that why don’t we arrest the situation, why don’t we just come up with the reality. You go to a doctor and the doctor tells, ‘you have malaria or you have cancer’, gives you paracetamol just to reduce the pain but the disease is there. We have a problem, unless and until we solve it, in reality whether we do it today or next year, we haven’t strayed economically. But what we are trying to put in place is fiscal discipline.”