By Landing Ceesay
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon. Seedy Keita, has said that government officials jointly do corrupt practices with the private sector.
“On the issue of corruption, you don’t need just legislation to fight corruption. It is not only the government that is corrupt. Corruption is a cross-cutting issue. There is more corruption in the private sector, than in the government. We all know the government represents a fraction of our economy, and government officials cannot do corruption among or by themselves. They do it jointly with the private sector. So to fight it, the government is the right place to look for,” Hon. Keita said at the IMF Joint in-country October 2022 Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) on Friday.
The Finance Minister made these remarks in response to a claim made by John Njie– Chairman of TANGO and a leader within Civil Society Organisations that corruption is “unattended” in the Gambia.
The Finance Minister stated that they have had a taste of what it takes to close loopholes; and are working on enhancing public transparency, public accountability, and value for money expenditure.
“A simple example is that when I was traveling to Brussels with my Ministerial colleagues; I wanted to do a simple experiment to say, let’s look at people accusing the government of corruption. In Brussels airport, they have a kiosk where water bottles are sold for one Euro each. You just put one Euro and pick one. I said I want to do a similar thing in The Gambia and see how people would react. The feedback I got was that ‘you don’t need to do it because they would not take only the water, but they would take the kiosk along. So I couldn’t even start it. So we started nudging our way. And it is not only in the Gambia, but everywhere,” he said.
Hon. Keita further stated that at the Senegambia bridge, the revenue used to be collected by the ferry services; but when they went to the provinces to see what was happening there, they were not very convinced with the collection mechanism and then changed it.
He surmised that in June of 2021, revenue collected at the crossing for that month was D17 million and after they implemented the change, the revenue collected in June of 2022 was D47 million – an increase of a whopping D30 million.
Hon. Keita said they continue to see increases month after month, and for the month of August 2022, the revenue collected was D59 million.
“This is exactly not technology related. It was just a swap of roles. We cannot do it alone. The Gambia belongs to us all. Don’t see us as Ministers and politicians. No, we have the hardest job, because to whom much is given, much is expected. We are in charge of public posts and goods, where the poorest of the poor lives and livelihoods depend on our performance. We are doing our best but we cannot do it alone. We will continue to leverage on partnership with the donor community, with the private sector, and of course, with journalists and Civil Society,” he said.