By Buba Gagigo
The National Assembly Member for Serekunda West Constituency, Hon. Madi Ceesay, in his intervention during the 2023 budget debate, said the country’s budget in its current iteration, is not development focused, lamenting that only fifteen percent [15%] of the General Fund (GF) was earmarked for development:
“If you look at our budget from the General Fund (GF), Eighty-five percent [85%] of it is all recurrent. Only Fifteen percent [15%] is development. We cannot develop like that. Very few people have opportunities to occupy places like what we are occupying today. As members of parliament, as members of the cabinet, and as Directors, very few people compared to the larger number of people in the country. Therefore, the solutions should be provided by us and in providing these solutions, we must sacrifice,” he concluded.
Hon. Madi Ceesay, during the debate, suggested that the Gambia should put an embargo on yearly salary increments for at least 5 years in the face of mounting and expensive debt.
“The 2023 budget has little for development. Our incomes need to be watched. We have salary increments almost year in and year out. I think we should have an embargo on that if we want to make any meaningful development in this country. But if any budget session, you want allowances to go up, You want salaries to go up. Then there will be nothing for development. That means we will just be filling our pockets with taxpayers’ money. And there cannot be any development because there are no resources,” he suggested.
The honorable member also describes the Gambian economy as a ‘sick’ economy, saying it is everyone’s responsibility to tend to the ‘sick’ economy in an effort to reduce the recurring debt burden and its negative implications on the country’s overall economic development.
“We are dealing with a sick economy. And this economy has to be fixed by us because that is an onus which is on us. Like other members said, we all know that our resource envelope is not as fat as we want it to be. We should cut our coats according to our size. Our debt status at the moment is here -at our neck. You look at the debt service portion of our budget, it is huge. It is taking a huge chunk of our money. Therefore, how do we solve that? These differences are between our resources and our expenditure. This deficit we can control it. But we have to be honest with ourselves if we want to control it. This is not about any government. This is about our country, the Gambia. Other countries have done it and we can do it with sacrifice,” he said.