“If anybody is to be blamed, it is me, because I have taken the decision to come to the National Assembly for transparency; to reveal to you exactly; this is the reality on the ground. Whether we solve it today or whether we solve it tomorrow or whether we solve it day after tomorrow, it will always come back to hunt us,” Gambia’s Finance Minister Mamburay Njie told Parliament on Thursday amid the Minister’s unsuccessful attempts to convince Deputies to approve the supplementary budget he tabled before Parliament earlier yesterday.
Mr. Njie says Gambia’s economy is sick and it needed an urgent rescue. He says MPS’s refusal to approve the submitted supplementary budget will only complicates the problem.
“You go to a doctor and the doctor tells you that you have malaria or you have cancer, I will give you a paracetamol just to reduce the pain, but the disease is there. We have a problem,” he said.
For the first time, since the advent of the Barrow government, Gambian Parliamentarians have unanimously voted against a supplementary budget tabled by Finance Minister Mamburay Njie. The Minister wants Parliament to approve over one billion Gambian dalasis to prevent a potential government shutdown. He says the funds are badly needed to keep the government operational. But Banjul North MP Ousman Sillah says the Minister’s budgetary request is unconstitutional.
“They are asking for money to pay for certain expenses; certain things that they have already spent. And section 1153 of the Constitution prohibits that. What they should brought before us is things that have not been spent. They have already spent on it and then want us to approve it; that is what we rejected totally,” PDOIS Banjul North MP Sillah said.
Protesters stormed Parliament on Thursday, calling on MPS to reject the supplementary budget bill. Protesters said the bill was misplaced and was not in the best interest of the country. For example, they said, sectors such Health, Education, and agriculture have been grossly underfunded, while the President’s Office accounts for the greater chunk of proposed budget.
Sedia Jatta is the Member for Wulli. Jatta says the government’s failure to do its homework right, has resulted in the rejection of the proposed budget. He says the government’s actions to bring such an ill-conceived supplementary bill was “unparliamentary.”
“Our conscience and the National interest, that should be fundamental in whatever we do here. The section 112 and the National interest; nothing else should matter to us here other than; even if the whole Banjul is there demonstrating that is not our problem,” Jatta said.
The Member for Foni Jarrol also reechoed Jatta’s argument on the matter.
“You are not above the law. We are all under the law. So, the law is saying from this time to this time. You cannot go beyond it. So, Honorable Minister, I am very sorry; your bill or estimates has come at a very wrong time and because of that I cannot say I am in line with approving,” he said.
President Adama Barrow won the 2016 elections after he was backed by his former party, the United Democratic Party together with seven other opposition parties. The UDP MPS, who have been defending Mr. Barrow’s government agenda, have this time around turned their back at him.
President Barrow’s government is facing strong opposition from various quarters in the country. On Thursday, University Medical students, stormed the main referral hospital premises in Banjul, demanding that the Cuban Doctors on technical assistance in The Gambia, should leave the country. Some of the Cuban Doctors have travelled home for Christmas.
The leader of the United Democratic Party Ousainou Darboe, also said during the party’s recent Congress that he is ready to fight anyone bent on dividing his party. This followed reports that President Barrow is preparing to launch his own political party.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Email: [email protected]