As Gambians concerned about the future of our country we need to balance idealism with pragmatism and vote for someone who can defend our liberty, be faithful to our constitution, ready to safeguard against the endless pillaging of our country’s resources and not to interfere in the judicial processes. 

I was carefully going through the agendas listed in the party Manifesto of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) that was published in your newspaper and was dumbfounded when I read Agenda 29: The Parastatal Sector Development, which reads inter alia, “GDC Government shall strive to reorganize the parastatal sectors so that all such government institutions and agencies that have been accorded semi-autonomy shall be reintegrated into central government for the enhancement of efficient and effective service delivery. In this regard all government departments, institutions and agencies which have been operating parallel to central government shall be reinstated to their line ministerial sectors. In the bid to reorganize the parastatal sector all such government institutions and agencies shall be revitalized through reabsorption to their direct line ministries where they will be provided the required support so as to enhance more effective system of operation such as the application of greater probity in the service delivery system”.

In as much as the GDC will endeavor to ensure effective national service delivery, how can institutions like the GRA, GPA, GAMTEL, SSHFC, GIA, GCCA etc. be run as any government department reporting to a permanent secretary without negatively impacting its ability to deliver efficient service and increase profits? There is a different between parastatals that are running for profits and those purely offering public service. If GRA is to be reverted back to government, an institution that underwent successful amalgamation between former Income Tax department and Customs and Excise, will this not seriously affect the operations and revenues of the GRA?

It is common knowledge that since the introduction of performance contract system in the first republic most of the parastatals were operated successfully and registered exponential growth both in terms of ROE and profits. The only drawback with that system was that some greedy government executives who were supposed to monitor the performance of the parastatals and provide effective oversight functions were busy paying themselves huge bonuses at the end of every annual performance appraisal.

But those abuses will pale into insignificance if compared to the way Yaya Jammeh was emptying the tills of the parastatals. During the 22 years of Jammeh’s rule parastatals were treated as his personal property. Funds from some of these PEs have been used to pay for rice importation, invest in oil infrastructure, building bridges, buying weapons, with frequent indiscriminate and undocumented transfers.

By transferring paratstatals to appropriate line ministries, government revenues will be affected as well as service delivery. Imagine how long it is taking to now process driving licenses? If this services were giving to any private firm we will see noticeable service delivery and instead of taking six months to process driving license, this new firm can do it in a day. So with profound respect for the GDC leader, I think Agenda 29 of their manifesto needs to be revisited before we have another Yaya Jammeh as president. Enough of having a president who uses state resources as his personal property. It is time for a better future.

Since the GDC manifesto is just a verbal declaration of the intentions or views of the party, any moves to transform the parastatal service sector into a government department or ministry could be seen as another form of pillaging our state resources.

Written By A Concerned Gambian

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