News emanating from the Ministry of Finance through Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Information on the government’s economic and financial reform is very encouraging. The downsizing of our foreign embassies, downsizing of government employees, new government vehicle policies, haulting of financial leakages, cost cutting and the digitalization of government payments and procurements are some of the vital and necessary reforms that the government of President Barrow will be embarking on. This news was like a New Year’s gift for many Gambians who wish to see The Gambia go the the next level of development. The transformation of our economy from analog economy to digital economy will be the most significant and timely reform any Gambian government has embarked on since the country became independent some 53 years ago. This reform, when put into practice and not just a rehtoric, will create many opportunities in the financial sector and the country as a whole. It will be in the history books as one of the legacies of President Adama Barrow. The informal sector of our economy is huge which is why government’s uncontrolled revenue will surely increase with the help of intergrating our economy to be formal. Handling with cash within government systems will be something of the past and itshould be stopped and not allowed with the help of digital economy. Dealing with cash is always a recipe for corruption hence this digital reform could not have come late and should be implemented immediately. The logistic to move from analog economy to digital will not be easy and will take time but it is very encouraging to start the process quickly.
The digital economy is already in existence which means the technology to transform is already there. What is needed is to educate and inform our population on why we need to go digital with our economy. As the old saying goes: “Old habits die hard” and that change sometimes is good but not always welcome. A point in mind is the situation at Social Security and Housing Finance Corporatio (SSHFC). Reforms can be painful at times but reforms are inevitable in any system or process. What is important in any change or reform is involvement. Here comes the ”Ivolvement Theory” which is very important to put into consideration if any genuine reform is to be accepted and succeeded. The Involvement Theory is about involving and engaging those who are to be affected by the change or reform. The government, if they are serious in going digital economically, should immediately launch an all-out information campaign to all government institutions and the nation as well. This transformation is going to effect everyone. Government employees should get free education or instant courses on digital economy to make the transition or reform acceptable, easy and painless. Never should change be forced upon, less you get opposition and things can get derailed. President Adama Barrow’s initiative to provide Free WiFi within the context of the National Development Plan will contribute immensely in providing access to digital economy. No one and no region in The Gambia should be left behind when the government wants to proceed with the digital economy. At the end of the day it is all about education, access to the Internet and to be connected through a robust Internet infrastructure. The digitalization of the economy is the most difficult part of the proposed reform from the Ministry of Finance. The other reforms like downsizing of foreign embassies, downsizing government employees, vehicle policies and cost cutting are just a matter of implementation and giving instructions.
We hope that many reforms are in the pipeline and they will be announce to the public in an appropriate time.
On a final note, I will not conclude without giving kudos to President Adama Barrow for standning high and firm by upholding the rule of law in the SSHFC issue, despite tremendous pressure and blackmail from people who only see their individual selfish interest. The President, through the SSHFC commission’s findings together with many patriotic Gambians send an unequivocal message that there will never be ”BUSINESS AS USUAL” in this government under his watch. You don’t want to work there is the EXIT DOOR. Thank you Mr. President.