Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The National Assembly is an accomplice in Jammeh's misdeeds

The National Assembly rubber-stamp approval of the 2014 Supplementary Appropriations Bill to the tune of D1.12 billion with neither substantial debate nor probing questions makes its members accomplices in Jammeh's criminal activities.  The reason being, it is obvious that the Executive branch of government, specifically the Office of The President, has been using the budget process to siphon off public monies for private use by Yaya Jammeh.  

It is evident that he using the budget process to conceal his regime's nefarious spending habits that will not pass normal budget scrutiny even by this rubber-stamp National Assembly.  

Jammeh also appears to be "pre-financing" the same bad spending habits of his only to you the budget process to seek "reimbursement".  For example, his fleet of jets are maintained and fuel by the Gambian taxpayers without the benefit of us knowing who owns the planes, and why are taxpayers paying the salaries of the pilots and crew.  

Nowhere in the public assets register are the planes listed as government property and yet the National Assembly routinely approves Supplementary Appropriations year after year without asking the right questions about assets, with dubious origins that are being maintained through the public purse.

The huge deficit, particularly the domestic debt, is partially due to the raiding of the revenue generating government agencies of The Gambia Revenue Authority(GRA), The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

It is common knowledge that a substantial part of the foreign exchange collected at the Banjul International Airport (BIA) and other foreign points of entry is collected and delivered to the dictator in Kanilai thus aggravating and weakening the forex market further.  The erosion of confidence in forex market continues to go unabated since Jammeh decided to interfere in it over a year ago because forex bureaux and individual dealers do not trust that Jammeh will ever stop interfering.   

The confidence in the market is at its lowest in years and the small forex traders, most of them Fulas of Guinean origin, sufficiently intimidated by the regime that most are just waiting for the land borders to open for them to return to Guinea.  

It is, therefore, not surprising that the revenue targets set by the Finance Ministry are hard met, year in, year out.  The revenue leakages are mainly caused by Jammeh by siphoning off revenues collected by GRA, GPA, CAA to name a few.   

The National Assembly, as representatives of the Gambian people must, first and foremost, protect their interests and not those of Yaya Jammeh.  

Therefore, it follows that if their is collusion between the National Assembly, and Yaya Jammeh, its Members are equally culpable and will, therefore, be held responsible for encouraging and perpetuating a devious system designed to encourage illegal use of public funds using an opaque budget process.  

Transparency in the process if the regime stands any chance of reversing the existing and deteriorating economic condition that Gambia faces today.  The National Assembly must exercise its constitutional duty as representatives of the people by scrutinizing every expenditure item brought before it by the regime.