My Fellow Gambians, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Classified as one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa, the Gambia has one of the largest ministerial portfolios in the continent. The operations of these ministries are not realizable without external aid of grants and loans.
With over 44% of total dependency on “development partners”, the Gambia’s annual fiscal year budgets are encumbered by grants. Every minister of finance should be appraised on the amount of revenues that he or she has generated for the Gambia. Additionally, every minister of finance should equally be appraised on the efficient uses of funds.
Unfortunately, the current minister of finance does not have the foresight of revenue recognition principle and enhancement. It is apparent that his ministry continues to recognize grants in the period that there were promised, instead of using conservatism on promises that are not legally binding.
The government of Adama lacks any vision on the revenue recognition principle and expenditure incurrences. Due to the matching principle, allocation of expenditure can only take effect if there is measurability and availability of revenues.
With the exception of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), the other state owned enterprises (SOS) did not pay their annual mandated 40% dividend rate of net profit to the Treasury of the Gambia. The combined 2017 net profit of D804 million could have generated additional non-tax revenue of D361, 400,000 to our treasury.
In my view, the government of Adama Barrow should entertain the idea of selling every share capital that the country owns in these state owned enterprises. This I believe would reduce the government’s additional expenditures on enterprises that continue to milk the meager revenues that the countries realizes.
The Gambia has potential of increasing tax revenue if the government restructures the Gambia Revenue Authority, the Customs, and Immigration by restricting these agencies of tax assessment responsibilities. The tax collecting should be made directly at the Central Bank of the Gambia. In my view, no official from the GRA, Customs and Immigration should be responsible for tax collection or recording responsibility.
With recurring huge budget deficits, and total national debt of more than 145% of GDP, the government of the Gambia continues to beg for budget support without restructuring the country’s revenue stream. The Gambia continues to have a desire on assistance from “development partners” on the country’s annualized budget appropriations of 45%.
Since Adama Barrow assumed the presidency of the Gambia, the thirst for dependency on grants and loans has resulted in a 15% decline in the value of the Gambian Dalasi. Barrow in my view, lacks the foresight to lead the Gambia.
Sadly, the total national debt of more than 145% of the Gambia’s GDP is more than the statutory limit of 70%. Bluntly speaking, the executive branch has violated budgetary appropriations of revenues and expenditures.
Total dependency on external sources has decreased the purchasing power of our citizens. Without sound monetary and fiscal policies, the decline in the value of the Gambian Dalasi will continue to prevail in the long-term.
Correspondingly, the Barrow administration has failed the Gambian people on transparency and intolerance on corruption. The large scale nature of self-enrichment from the president downwards is the practice of the day in the Gambia.
For example, the First Lady of the Gambia received a questionable remittance of US$752,000 from China to the Un-Guaranty Un-Trust Bank of the Gambia. It is baffling that this money laundering was reported and no action has been taken for the First Lady to return the laundered money to the treasury of the Gambia.
In our capacity as Gambians and the wanton responsibility of a shadow government, we should consider the following questionable acts by officials of the Barrow administration:
1. The multi-million Dalasi mansion that Barrow built in Mankamang Kunda,
2. the $752,000 (D34, 000, 000) monetary laundering scheme by Fatoumatta Barrow’s foundation,
3. the D20 million mansion built by Mai Gakou at Brufut Heights, the other mansions in Kering Serign and Kotu,
4. the multi-million Dalasi construction by Amadou Sanneh in Bansang,
5. Semlex contract award,
6. the multi-million Dalasi mansion built by a staff member at the State House within 6 months of employment, and
7. other fraudulent schemes by current and former officials of the Barrow administration.
The Gambia needs a bold leader with no tolerance for corruption. In my view, we need a “system change” in the Gambia.
Dr. Niani Bay Ray
When it comes to fraud, I have no friend