By Gibril Saine
A gloomy outlook indicates that countries around the world shall face steep recession by the time dust begins to settle on the virus pandemic. While concern remain globally with the high rate of infection and the ensuing body count, economic instability continues to preoccupy central bank policymakers around the world
While it will be quite sometime before any clear handle on the level of battering & devastation COVID-19 has had on The Gambia, early warning signs with lockdown worries & social distancing points to a weakening economy.
With no end in sight in the near term, local area councils are extra burdened by saturated small cash collection worries from a hard-pressed population quite hesitant to part ways with their few paltry dalasis.
But even with all the darkening clouds of a little less sunlight from the capital, Banjul, a glimmer of hope still flickers over #RiverGambia if the Barrow administration are visionary technicians worth their salt. I will come to it …
Anyone dabbled in economic policy and governance will tell you that crisis is nothing new, nor will the latest be the last of them. In a globalised and interconnected world marred by uncertainty, Gambia, get used to crisis decision making and the myriad of challenges that presents to lives and livelihoods.
It is times like these that good leaders and governments rise to the challenge, take the bull by the horn so to speak, inspire and lead their people and nation to big and brighter outcomes. The name of the game is bold leadership, visible, ever-present to rally & lead the way as the nation’s chief patron and spokesman. That is the expectation in a democracy even without a crisis – as seen with Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda – Macky Sall, even the loudmouth Trump’s America – seem busy at it night and day.
Current economic trends in the country does NO justice to the long-suffering Gambians nor the state as such per se. Thou one is often encouraged & inspired by the resilience and entrepreneurial drive of young Gambians rising to unmitigated challengers in a most difficult environment – with little or no technical/ financial support from their government.
The leadership has a long way to go to catch up & match the desire to rescue & uplift every Gambian child from poverty. I’m afraid that starts with food security, manufacturing, entrepreneurship start-up nation ready to exploit and export to the world. A desirable state of affairs creating wealth and jobs and riches – requires visionary calibre leaders to direct day-to-day state affairs in the National Interest.
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See – There is no nation-state on earth able to navigate its way out of the virus pandemic unscathed. But despite the downsides, political & economic policy decisions of various governments will have a telling forbearance on the outcome, or successes to be had later on.
As the number of Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Africa, governments in some countries are taking sharper measures to help poor people affected by lockdowns restrictions.
With its strong gold reserves, manufacturing and export trade surpluses, European nations, Japan and those “First World” countries have embarked on quantitative easing measures – printing free cash worth billions, even trillions in the case of the United States, pumped into their respective economies to keep it afloat.
Nearer home, BBC Africa is reporting that Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has said, ‘food is being distributed to the most vulnerable poor across the country. Meanwhile in Kenya, ‘the ministry of agriculture said it will distribute cereals to the poor …”
The Gambia govt needs to come up with an economic stimulus package as social (security) safety net payments to the poorest families in the country. That to include recovery measures for local businesses through tax incentives on condition that staff layoff will be reversed. Measured deployed to steady inflation and price gauging at the marketplace are positive, thus welcome.
But these are short term fixes. Long term measures, however, should see the finance minister hold a press conference allay public concern on the value of the plummeting dalasi in these trying times. He needs to reassure people losing their job and businesses facing closure that incentives are being worked on in terms of taxation, stimulus and that. Information minister Sillah needs to be more visible in the press; Foreign minister Tangara has to come out of hiding update the country on the status of Gambian immigrants in harms way – China, Italy, Spain, et.al.
Devolved area councils too are in dire straits, facing a mini-crisis of their own having to cope with demands to provide services to meet expectations. From Basse, Kaur, Brikama, KMC to Banjul city council – recent sittings of the local govt sub-committee at the national assembly highlighted some of those challenges.
The Gambia government needs to be ambitious enough – Map out a vision on industrialisation with purposely designated zones in all areas of the country. Every local area authority has to comply with land reserve measures for agriculture and future needs. Govt need to apply technology and knowledge to embark on an architectural design of the entire country’s land layout. Again, requires ambition and will from central govt, to filter down to local regions enable municipalities to design their own short and long term aims.
Amid unreliable global supply chains and food shortages – The administration better rush to localize domestic production on agricultural goods and all year round irrigation farm supply to substitute poor quality imports. This must be the ultimate goal!!!
A Singaporean diplomat assured me its country was willing to stand by The Gambia on the city-state ambition. Involves an architectural map out of the whole country through visionary master planning by resident experts in country and town planning.
The search for a better Gambia continues – A country that works for all of its citizens. #Debate #Battle-of -Ideas #Leadership