Monday, April 22, 2024

UDP’s Suwaneh Accuses GGC Officials of Playing Blame Games to Dodge Settling Unpaid Monies to Farmers

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By: Dawda Baldeh

Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) Youth President Hagi Suwaneh has accused Gambia Groundnut Cooperation (GGC) officials of playing a blame game with ‘seccos’ stations to avoid paying money owed to farmers. In a statement obtained by The Fatu Network, the opposition youth leader emphasized that GGC must settle the unpaid money to the farmers as the season has ended.

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Suwaneh called on the management of the corporation to take their responsibility seriously and ensure they immediately settle the money owed to the farmers. He accused the corporation of not finding an immediate solution to the lack of payment and asked them to stop the blame game with the ‘secco’ stations.

“GGC cannot play the blame game with seccos to avoid paying farmers their hard-earned money, and this is unacceptable,” he emphasized. As a government entity mandated to purchase nuts, Suwaneh believed that GGC has the responsibility to ensure the allocated funds are utilized judiciously.

“Passing the blame onto the Seccos is unacceptable, and the government should hold GGC accountable for a breach of contract for failing to efficiently manage the funds that have been provided to them,” he recommended.

For Mr. Suwaneh, mismanagement of public funds is increasing the poverty level in the country, citing a rate of over 70% living in the rural farming areas. In addition to the bitter hardships of poverty, Hagi believed that the absence of paying farmers their money after taking their groundnuts increased their financial burden, especially during this Ramadan as prices of commodities kept on skyrocketing.

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Despite the famous slogan ‘agriculture is the backbone of the economy of this country,’ Hagi claimed the welfare of farmers is not taken as a priority by this government. “If the government is serious about uplifting the people of this country out of poverty, it will only be a responsible gesture for them to ensure that agriculture is given top priority in its annual budgetary allocations in general and an effective service delivery to the poor farmers,” he added.

He claimed that the government has habitual gestures of mismanaging essential services to the poor farmers. He recalled the challenges of farmers accessing fertilizers during the 2020-2021 farming season, resulting in exorbitant prices, claiming fertilizers intended for farmers were smuggled out to neighboring countries.

“This disgraceful mismanaged outcome caused a massive fertilizer shortage to an essential sector of the economy that provides almost 40% of foreign exchange to our limping economy,” he claimed. According to him, this high cost of production and the delayed availability of this essential farming input certainly impacted the productivity of the sector adversely over the years.

Suwaneh further asserted that over D31 million was unaccounted for in 2023, adding that millions of dalasis are missing in this year’s groundnut marketing season. “This taxpayers’ money simply disappeared, causing a huge economic loss and an ever-widening balance of trade, a continuous increase of food prices for 40% of households that spend over 75% of their income to buy food,” he asserted.

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