|Finance Minister Kolley|
At the time the Finance Minister was making such spurious denial, we said we will give him the benefit of the doubt since we were not in possession of the budget figures in question. We were further influenced by his status within the regime and because he was a former staff of the local office of the United Nations Development Program who aught to know better.
The facts we were subsequently able to access run contrary to the emphatic statement of denial that the Minister offered to the Daily Observer, the dictator's official mouthpiece.
Let us look at the facts as they appear in the Minister's budget proposal. It is true that from 2013 to this year, Minister's salaries were held at D 244,800 annually or D 20,400 per month. This figure excludes benefits and privileges this class of public servants enjoy, like two or more luxury vehicles, fueled on the tax payers, residential allowances and other hidden fringe benefits.
|Hon. Samba Jallow|
But in this year's budget proposals of the Finance Minister, a budget provision amounting to D 331,000 from D 244,800 in the previous three years i.e. from 2013 - 2015. These are simple, plain figures that a primary school pupil can easily decipher thus making the Minister's denial not only laughable but an in insult to Hon. Samba Jallow and to the collective intelligence of the Gambian people.
The proposed increase represent 35% from the three-year base salary, averaging out to a little over 11% over the same three-year period which is still higher than the official rate of inflation considered to be 7%.
If the regime's argument is that the new salary proposals represent cost-of-living adjustment, then the morality of such a proposal becomes even more repugnant as we maintained in our first post on the issue. Fiscally, it still remains irresponsible regardless of the regime's reasoning given the precarious state of Gambia's economy.
In short, any increase in salaries without a corresponding decrease in spending elsewhere (i.e. savings) is fiscally irresponsible and morally repugnant. The increase should, therefore, be rescinded by the Minister or be voted down by the National Assembly. Yes, we know, it's a rubber-stamp parliament.