By Own Correspondent – As the National Assembly continues its meeting on the 2011 draft budget estimates, the Hon. Sidia Jatta, member for Wuli West constituency, has asked for how long The Gambia will continue to take loans upon loans.
Contributing to the debate on the draft estimates last Thursday, the opposition party MP expressed his worry about the country’s debt burden, saying that no country has ever developed by accumulating loans.
“Some of the grants given to us are killing our capacity to create our own means of existence, and also taking loans upon loans will not help address the fundamental question of development of our nation. It is not possible, and no country has developed by accumulating debts,” Hon Jatta opined.
According to the Wuli West parliamentarian, it is necessary to tax, but the driving force of an economy, if it is really helping, cannot be taxation, he said.
“Everybody agrees with that, and how to bring it about is the fundamental question,” he said. This, he add, is why he said budget period should be a time for intensive activity and interaction between the executive and the legislature.
“We were told by the Finance Minister that Government is making efforts to cut down on internal borrowing, and if you go to paragraph (14) of the estimates, the deficit is projected to be dealt with by borrowing externally and internally, which will amount to D833.82 million as external borrowing and D120 million as internal borrowing,” he further noted.
The Wuli West parliamentarian says as long as the productive base of the economy is not developed, it will be very difficult for two things to happen: poverty reduction and income generation.
“Government was at one time involved in negotiations with the commercial sector using persuasive methods, but in real terms Government has no control over prices and, therefore, where you have no control over prices you do not necessarily control the inflation,” Hon. Jatta noted. He further stated that the 2011 draft budget estimates are more or less synonymous with a development plan.
Hon. Jatta also questioned the state of affairs at the Book Production Unit, which he added, was created to print school books.
“Mr. Speaker, the book production unit was created to print school books, but still school books are printed outside The Gambia. My question is: What is the purpose of that unit now? Has it been swallowed up by the Gambia Printing and Publishing Corporation (GPPC) or does it still exist independently to fulfill its function of printing books provided or written by the Curriculum Development Center?” Hon. Jatta queried.