Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jammeh is the single biggest drain on the budget

Gambian dictator
The APRC Majority Leader in the National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, was out again defending his boss for his incessant and insatiable taste for drinking from the public trough at the expense of Gambian taxpayers.

Last year, six weeks before the end of the financial year, Jammeh's Finance Minister submitted a Supplementary Appropriations Bill asking for additional D 1.12 billion. The huge sum was to be financed locally because donors have stopped budget support programs after their failure to convince the regime to act prudently in their spending.

Almost 50% of the amount went to the Office of The President, a non-executing agency while Education received nothing and Agriculture received pittance - two key and important ministries that is touted by Jammeh as his highest priorities.

With external donor support quickly drying up, the Gambian taxpayer has become Jammeh's primary source of financing arms for his personal security and also to satisfy the urges of his shopaholic wife's trips to Washington, Rabat and Paris.  The budget has become the new instrument through which bogus claims are funneled in the form of supplementary appropriations.

In 2013, the Supplementary Appropriations Bill was to the tune of D 300 million all funded locally. It was the fourth such appropriations in four years that the National Assembly approved with most of it going to the Office of The President.

In the same year, the Jammeh regime returned to the National Assembly with the claim that the Finance Ministry under-budgeted in Fiscal 2012 and proceeded to ask for the approval of another Supplementary Appropriations of close to D 500,000,000 because of what the then Finance Minister called "urgent spending pressures."

In the Finance Ministry parlance it means Yaya Jammeh pressing us for money to finance his personal projects and his own use.   Since he could not say that, the Minister urged his colleagues to "stop unnecessary spending." In 2011, the National Assembly approved Supplementary Appropriations Bill amounting to D 219,800,000 which represented twice the amount approved in 2010.

Fabakary Tombong Jatta was a member of the National Assembly throughout the period that we are citing here and he led the fight to approve every request that came from the Office of The President via the Finance Ministry.  Fabakary has been a key player in the destruction of the Gambian economy by piloting these irresponsible and highly dubious bills through the National Assembly and for understandable reason.

The ultimate power rest with Yaya Jammeh because all he has to do is expel any Assembly Member from the ruling party he controls and he or she ceases  to become a Member of Parliament.  Jammeh has the power to throw out any Member of the National Assembly.  Constituents once they elect their representatives, they do not have the corresponding power to retain them in the Assembly.  That power rests with the Gambian dictator.  That is why Famabary Tombong is not ashamed to say publicly that "This president is the most important person in this country.  Every butut spent by the president's office is justifiable."