Friday, October 2, 2015

National Assembly Members Alhagie Sillah and Mam Cherno Jallow are equally culpable

Alhagie Sillah NAM
Mam Cherno Jallow, National Assembly Member
We wrote as recently as August this year as we have been writing since we creation of the blog over two years ago, see here and here, warning about the impending economic disaster resulting from irresponsible public policy formulation by the regime of Yaya Jammeh with the active support of APRC members of the National Assembly.

Members of the Assembly have been so blindly endorsing every bill that is brought before it by the Executive to have earned them the well-deserved title of "The Rubber Stamp National Assembly.  They will go to the extent of supporting laws that go against the interests of the constituents they claim to represent and their our political interest as long as the bill enjoys the support of the Gambian dictator.

One such law is one that empowers Yaya Jammeh to expel Members of the National Assembly not only from his political party but fro the National Assembly as well, even though they were elected by their respective constituencies.  The Rubber Stamp Assembly supported a clearly unconstitutional law thus giving Jammeh absolute sovereign power over the people who voted the NAMs and Jammeh in power.

We are revisiting the actions of the National Assembly Members because of the concerns raised by two APRC Members of the National Assembly during a recent adjournment debate.  The NAM for Banjul North lamented at the deplorable road conditions in the city of Banjul, while the NAM for Upper Nuimi was worried about the Vision 2016 descending on The Gambia in a few months and wondered out loud when the "expert" consultants were going to advise them on how many tons of rice would need to be imported in 2016, forgetting that Vision 2016 calls for the December 2016 deadline for the ban on rice imports to take effect, and thus no need for advise from consultants.

The road conditions in the capital city of Banjul are both inexcusable as they are an embarrassment. There is not a single passable road; not even the main Independence Drive is passable.  As one businessman put it to me at in August, he said he would not even attempt to drive a donkey cart along Primet Street because of the deplorable state of the road condition.  It s obvious affecting business as well as the health of the people who live in the city as they have to deal with raw sewerage seeping through a dysfunctional system because the main pumping station at Bond Road is in a state of disrepair.

The building that houses the National Assembly costs Gambian taxpayers $ 27 million.  If the Banjul North representative was a member of the Assembly in August 2008, he must have approved a Line of Credit (LOC) with the Ex-Im Bank of India to the tune of $ 10 million to build the Assembly Building.  In October 2012, Hon. Sillah did vote in favor of a supplementary LOC to the tune of
$ 16.88 million, representing a cost overrun of 170% of the original cost estimate which is a red flag in itself worth noting for future inquiry into this ans similar projects under Jammeh.

Jammeh has been saddling The Gambia with very expensive non-revenue generating loans which has been so blatantly obvious that it even caught the eye of The Economist magazine that doesn't pay that much attention to The Gambia.  It did this time by concluding that Gambia's unfavorable debt profile is partly due to our propensity to go for expensive loans with unfavorable  repayment terms.  Procuring such loans for the building of commercial roads leading int and out of the city of Banjul would have repaid itself with little or no burden to the public treasury, unlike the National Assembly Building.

Vision 2016 as well as the National Assembly Building share one thing in common : they are both ideas originated from a single individual who acts on impulse and thus not guided by feasibility studies and blueprints that are well thought through.  And when that happens, you can be rest assured that you will end up in the mess Gambia finds itself today, and you, Mr. Alhagie Sillah and Mam Cherno Jallow, have contributed immensely to our current predicament.  You must, therefore. also take personal responsibility.