Hon. Lamin Ceesay, Nam For Kiang West
By Ramatoulie Jawo
Lamin Ceesay, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Kiang West, has expressed strong criticism of the 2022–2023 budget, arguing that it fails to adequately address the country’s pressing needs.
Ceesay pointed out that the vast majority of the budget, around 80%, is allocated towards salaries and operational expenses, leaving a meager 13% for development projects. He highlighted the dire situation in the water sector, where a mere D10 million has been allocated for borehole drilling, a sum that is woefully insufficient to meet the needs of communities struggling with water scarcity.
Ceesay highlighted concerns, stating, “The Budget that we are looking at from 2022 to 2023 up to date is not building an economy for us. Eighty-something percent of our budget, the government local fund (GLF), is going into salaries and operations. We are committing only 13% of our GLF into development, and if you look at some of our ministries, like the Ministry of Water Resources, there is an allocation of D10 million for the drilling of boreholes in the needed communities, but some of the communities are still crying for water,” Hon. Ceesay stressed.
The NAM underscored the unsustainable reliance on loans for the country’s development, asserting that 75% dependency on loans is not a viable strategy. He criticized the delayed disbursement of the D10 million allocated to the Ministry of Water Resources, emphasizing that, even after 57 to 58 years of independence, communities are still struggling for access to clean water.
“57 to 58 years after Independence, our people are still crying for water to drink and cook with. That is unacceptable, honorable minister. Our Budget cannot still take care of that for us, and we say we are developing as a country. That is not possible, and it is unacceptable to see that D10 million allocated to the Ministry of Water Resources in 2023 was not disbursed until two weeks ago, and what was disbursed is just D3.6 million,” he said.
Hon. Ceesay urged the Minister of Finance to provide explanations for the delayed disbursement of funds earmarked for the Ministry of Water Resources. He also raised concerns about the budget deficit for 2023, amounting to D3.9 billion, and projected a total deficit of D4.4 billion for 2024. Ceesay highlighted the adverse consequences of increasing deficits, leading to a higher reliance on loans and subsequent challenges with debt interest payments.
“The more loans we take, the higher our debts; this has implications for the debt interest payments, so we need to look at this. The Honorable Minister is presenting to us a budget of the money that we don’t have, and we say this is what we want and how we expect to get the rest,” he asked.
These remarks were made by Hon. Ceesay during the National Assembly’s debate on Monday, focusing on the 2024 estimate and revenue expenditure for the Gambia.