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Is Banjul project being paid in the 2020 budget?

A picture taken at the construction site of the Gai Construction on September 11, 2019. This picture is taken about 100 meters from Banjul’s main garage. They are building concrete slaps of about 6 inches thick.

On Monday, Gambia’s finance minister Mamburay Njie will be presenting before lawmakers the budget estimates for 2020 fiscal year. The estimate seen by Kerr Fatou is 24, 472, 615, 000, about eight hundred million dalasis less than the 2019 approved budget.

However, a noticeable difference between the 2019 and 2020 budget estimate is the increment in development budget of the Works Ministry between this year  and next year.

The approved development budget for the Works Ministry in 2019 was 246, 684, 000. The amount for the development budget under the same ministry for the 2020 estimate is D576, 436, 000. This represents an increase of  over three hundred and twenty-nine million (D329, 752, 000).

This suggest the payment of the first installment for the Banjul project, a “pre-financing” agreement between Gambia government and the Gai Construction.

The Banjul project was initiated and executed without the involvement of the Gambia Public Procurement Agency, the institution’s head Abdoulie Tambadou confirmed to Kerr Fatou few months ago.

The project, which is a loan should also have been approved by the National Assembly, a process the Government ignored, in contravention of the Financial Regulation 2014.

According to the credit facility, the Gambia Government will pay US$5, 960 000 (305,725,046 in current exchange rate) to Gai beginning February 2020.

The controversial Banjul project was brought under the limelight by a Kerr Fatou story titled “Gambia’s D1.8 billion project awarded without due diligence”.

For more on the Banjul project, click here…

In October, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Mod Secka, and Minister of Works Bai Lamin Jobe claimed the documents for the project were being reviewed.

Secka who witnessed the signing of the original document by his minister Mamburay Njie could not provide any detail about the review that is being done.

“…We are still discussing on the details of the project and we have no firm position yet,” Secka told Kerr Fatou on September 23.

“Given what is emerging, it looks like the credit facility will not be needed anymore. Of course, if it is to proceed it will follow due process including the National Assembly. (I) will update you once something firm is agreed.”

However, there is not evidence of the review of the contract’s credit facility in public space nor was there any attempt to get the loan approved by the lawmakers.

The work in Banjul continues. The Gambian leader Adama Barrow was on the street in Banjul last week to inspect the work.

Meanwhile, out of the 24 billion dalasis budget estimates, the Gambia is going to spend close to 9.5 billion to paying its debt. Gambia’s public debt is currently declared unsustainable by the International Monetary Fund, even though borrowing goes on unabetted.

In the estimate, the country is expected to borrow 5.5 billion, 3.9 billion of which will be from domestic sources.

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