Op-ed : Jammeh’s 2017 Budget; Inside the Numbers and Propose Remedies

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Brighton Essay 12

The Gambia

2017 Appropriation Bill/Budget

Thursday, December 22, 2016 by Mr. Abdoulie Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of APRC Government

Expected Revenue

i) Exp. Tax Revenue D7.86b
ii) Exp. Non Tax Revenue D0.674b
iii) Exp. Grants D5.86b
—————————————————————————
Total Expected Revenue D14.394b

Government Overheads

i) Personnel Emoluments D2.68b
ii) Other recurring Expenses D2.86b
—————————————————————————
Costs of GOVERNMENT D5.54
—————————————————————————
REVENUE BEFORE PROGRAMS D8.854b

Development Projects/Programs XXXXXXXX?
===============================================

NET REVENUE (+/-) DXXXXXXX??

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Total Expenditures and Net lending = D19.1b. Who knows what they mean net lending?

Thus D19.1 – 14.394 = D4.706b = this is our expected program and debt servicing allocation

1) This budget deficit supposedly borrowed at certain interest rates. Since this budget layout failed to explicitly show the EXPECTED DEBT SERVICING – we would safely assume the part of expected borrowing we would be paying debt. Wow! In short ONE REASON our government is impoverishing us – take debt to pay back debt.

2) Notice Total Costs of keeping the Government= D5.54b is 38.5% of Total Revenue. As bad as that may look, that includes D5.86b we rely on grants (begging/philanthropists) of others. Examine the same number against our own revenue (taxes/non tax revenues). It’s 64.9%! Another reason why we are so poor. And these figures didn’t show the effects of corruptions, fraud and inefficiencies of our systems

THESE NEED to change! We can do it! It will only take sincerity towards the affairs of the sovereign rather than our personal power hauling and/or self-enrichment.

Here are few areas to consider for a fix:

a) REDUCE THE NUMBER OF MINISTRIES: We definitely don’t need 19 Ministries to effectively manage our affairs. At this point I will not give those Ministries I think shouldn’t exist and/or should be collapse into others. GO FIGURE!

b) RESTRUCTURE GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES: Can’t still believe we are holding tight to a Secretary (at the door) and a Boss in the inner room – both with big Dell Computers with a price tag not less than D50K; yet all they do is pass phone calls and hand write and editing a 2-3 line memo to be shared internally. Good switch boarding can solve telephone distribution issues and basic email and/or intercom can address all internal communications. Simply take out all the fat off these bones – Lay offs!

c) DISSLOVE THE ARMY, SIS, Gendarmerie, PIU, etc.: A well sized, trained and police can do every law enforcement that maybe needed in the foreseeable future. This will eliminate the civil rights/liberties abuses of these organizations

d) DIVEST ALL PUBLIC CORPORATIONS/AGENCVIES: In a D14b budget their contribution came only within that D674m portion. In essence they are not the economic engines. Placing them in the hands of private investment will either make them efficient (very likely) or fail (unlikely because the private investor will protect his/her investment). Continuous public ownership of these corporations incubates corruption and inefficiency.

e) GROUND THE PUBLIC VEHICLE FLEET, CLOSE THE REPAIR SHOPS AND SEIZE FUEL DELIVERIES: A review to fulfill JUST WHAT’S NECESSARY will see nothing less than 80% of SELL OFF

f) DECENTRALIZE GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNANCE: Let go power/authority and resources go to the Regions, Districts, and villages. Their affairs will be address appropriately and timely. Accountabilities and transparencies will be improved with the layering and conflicting authority structures.

g) INCREASE DOMESTIC REVENUE: Do not jump on increasing taxes of any kind at the moment. More government seizure of private property/fruits of our labor could constrict economic growth and overall improvement of living quality – un-economic reallocation of capital. First things first – clean out the existing collection regime. No more collectors with school bags collecting cash from market vendors, drivers, etc. with no practical ways to proof either ways who paid, what was paid, for what and how much. Stop collecting arbitrary numbers from shopkeepers, drivers, hotels, tailors and businesses to collection of a defined proportion of taxable income. That’s fair for both sides and verifiable. We have to begin income reporting so that all taxable incomes are not only appropriately tax but also pay into our coffers and not syphoned by the collectors. Unless as a nation we encourage, begin and require some acceptable formal accounting of our economic activities all data/information such as GDP numbers are simply cooked up and/or incomplete. I know there are skeptics out there who will say that’s not workable in Gambia – Go will not so we have to make it workable. After 52 years and with so many educated men/women there are no excuses why we can’t do this. As a general rule Government of The Gambia should immediately STOP ALL CASH COLLECTION, CASH PAYMENTS BESIDES RETAIL BILLS AND/OR CASH PAYOUT OF ANY KIND AND FOR ANY REASON.

h) PUBLIC REPORTING: Make it a requirement, until they are divest, all Public Corporations/Agencies report their audited accounts to the shareholders (The people of Gambia) simple, concise but detail enough for our understanding. These can be done on Radio Gambia/GRTS TV, etc. Preferably within 2 weeks before The Presentation of The National Appropriation Bill/Budget. Such reporting should show comparisons of EXPECTED and ACTUAL of PASSED YEAR ACCOUNTS and The OUTLAY of the year ahead. Until we are in the know we won’t be able to perform our civic duties/responsibilities for the good of all.

i) ETC.

It’s madness! It’s sin! It’s immoral! To seize from the poor to service the lifestyle of few educated men/women in Banjul. Wages/government costs are incidental to THE GOALS OF TAXPAYERS. Our numbers say otherwise! For every DALASI of TAX collected – 64 BUTUTS goes to service government and ONLY 34 BUTUTS LEFT to service the sovereigns’ needs/wants.

Think About it!

To The Gambia Ever True

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