By: Sarjo Brito
Gambian Economist Momodou Sabally has described the country’s Parliament as a crime amid the budget process. The 2023 budget if passed, will see a massive increase in the salaries and allowances of the Assembly’s Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and National Assembly Members. The proposed increment has received intense criticism from both financial experts and ordinary Gambians, accusing parliamentarians of enriching themselves while ignoring the plight of their constituents and the status quo.
Sabally, who was at one point the head of the Civil Service under the Jammeh regime, said the proposed budget is a clear-cut indication that economic principles were not duly followed, adding that the economic ramifications cannot be overlooked. The one-time budget Director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs accused the people responsible for the draft budget, including the legislature which has the power to either pass or reject it, of looting the country’s coffers, at the expense of the Gambian people.
“The people trying to get this budget approved only care about their pockets. It’s all about what is in it for them. I will not stop calling out Adama Barrow and his ministers. Anyone trying to destroy this country’s economy will be equally called out. What is happening at the National Assembly is nothing but theft between Parliament and Barrow and his gang. So, what Touma Njie said is exactly what am going to reiterate. Parliamentarians have no business dipping their hands in our coffers,’’ Sabally said.
He further said it is unfortunate that the salaries of cabinet ministers were increased without going through National Assembly scrutiny. He also alleged that the proposed salary increment of the legislature is an attempt by the Barrow government to make the National Assembly a rubber-stamp Parliament.
“Speaker of the House doubled his pay by 100 per cent. During Jammeh’s days, he would not dare to even ask for a 30% increment. A parliament where a driver and messenger earn more than a graduate civil servant and an army sergeant. A country that operates like this, how do you expect that kind of country to move forward?’’ he quizzed.
The Gambia has been facing a tough economic situation in recent years as inflation continues to rise. Observers believe the approval of pay and allowance increments will be the ultimate betrayal for Gambians, especially at a time of dire economic struggles.