Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Budget-busting 'festivals'

Despite more government promises to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), excessive domestic spending seems to go unabated.

Why would a government in dire straights, financially, continue to entertain reckless spending.  It was before the start of the rainy season that Jammeh conducted the constitutionally-required Meet the Farmers Tour.

Such a tour requires the mobilization of both human and financial resources that is a heavy burden on the budget in normal times, much more when the fiscal position of the regime is in such a precarious state.  We raised similar concern in our Facebook page yesterday.  We asked what will Jammeh say to the farmers who have been abandoned in the 2013/14 groundnut buying season by a regime that claim to put agriculture at the top of is priority list.

The financial crisis facing the regime and the corresponding hardship facing the rural population in particular and ordinary citizens in general warrants cancellation of this years' tour.  The constitutional requirement can and should be invoked in period of national emergencies.  We are in an emergency when the entire economy is at the brink of total collapse.

As if the challenges facing the regime is not enough, Yaya Jammeh is insisting on going ahead with this year's Roots Festival which requires a financial outlay in the millions of dalasi.  Staff time that will be tied to this week-long festival is immeasurable which will be further drag to an already struggling economy.  A week spent in Kanilai with the mandatory requirement that all senior-level civil servants must attend, tantamount to government shut-down.  The impact on productivity is likely to be negative.  The argument that Festival tourists receipts will offset expenditure is not evident because most of those attending have, in the past, being sponsored by the government.  The Festival should be postponed indefinitely or until the economy has sufficiently recover to afford such a lavish occasion.

Finally, we have suggested that the planned celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the so-called Revolution, together with the associated fund-raising should be scrapped .  It is tasteless to ask Gambians to contribute towards it when the burden of the current economic crisis has fallen disproportionately o the shoulders of the very people who are being asked to contribute.  Besides, there is nothing Gambians should celebrate for. The 20-year rule of AFPRC and APRC regimes have been nothing but a nightmare, leaving Gambians traumatized, abused, killed, maimed and forced to go on exile.

The cancellations of all of these unproductive 'celebrations' will go a ling way in helping the Minister of Finance need its domestic debt target that he promised the IMF.