Gambian President Adama Barrow released a New Year statement at the end of 2023 for the new year 2024.
Fellow Gambians and Friends of The Gambia,
Another year has elapsed once again, giving way to a new year. As we look forward to 2024, we do so with gratitude to the Almighty God for the blessings and achievements of 2023, and we do so with much optimism as well.
Looking back, since the advent of the Coronavirus in 2019, 2023 was by far the most productive year in The Gambia, despite the persistent global economic crises and the inflationary backlash undermining our economies globally. Our international image and ratings confirm this convincingly.
During the year, we registered remarkable successes, particularly, in our priority areas of infrastructure development, energy and water provision, education, health, agriculture, and justice delivery, to name a few examples.
Overall, the country is stable, and there is peace countrywide. Besides the lamentable last September fatal shooting incident that involved three security personnel and a few other cases of murder and suicide, the crime rate in the country has dropped.
To deliver on our promises, my administration’s focus on development is now firmly anchored to the National Development Plan – YIRIWA (2023 – 2027) and the Medium-Term Economic Fiscal Framework (2023-2026) for macro-fiscal stability.
Although inflation has risen to 18%, The Gambia is faring much better than many other countries; however, we admit its far-reaching impact on the cost of living in the country, especially on the poor. Part of the solution to this challenge lies in stepping up local production to reduce imports and, thus, avoid the cost burden associated with importation.
My government will continue to subsidise essential imported commodities, even though this reduces our spending ability on development projects. Thus, to compensate for this, we must fall back on taxation; that is, taxation purely for inclusive development.
Fellow Citizens and Residents of The Gambia,
As I always say, my slogan is: No infrastructure, no development. Similarly, I believe that without development, progress, peace and stability would be hindered. Better still, there cannot be stability in the absence of peace.
To put it squarely, development is best made possible through peace, stability, unity, execution of proper plans and policies, and wise use of the resources at our disposal.
Based on this, a key indicator of development is the number and quality of relevant infrastructure projects undertaken in the country. Thus far, we are proud of the records. On account of this, to reassure you further, my government will remain development-oriented and sensitive to the plight, concerns, and welfare of the people.
Compatriots, Friends, Brothers, and Sisters,
A major concern of the year has been irregular migration. This is not only a menace, but it also appears to be on the rise, thus putting the lives of more young people at risk.
Young people have a very significant role to play in their families, communities, and in national development, hence we cannot watch them perish with impunity.
There are opportunities that such young persons can exploit to guarantee them success at home. Education and training for skill acquisition are the surest means for the youth to have guaranteed pathways to success and happiness.
This justifies our renewed focus on education and prioritisation of TVET, as reflected in the 2024 national budget.
The local communities, especially residents along the coastline, must play a more active part in preventing irregular migration. Family units, friends, and everyone else should be vigilant enough to intercept all potentially dangerous journeys that involve Gambian citizens, either as traffickers, passengers, boat crew, or otherwise.
Fellow Citizens and Friends of The Gambia,
Like the Security Sector Reform, the Civil Service Reform for better national service delivery is in progress.
These reforms hinge on the realisation that excellent service delivery depends on the quality, efficiency, and disposition of the workers in the public service.
As a result, their welfare will always take centre stage so that they have adequate support to perform their duties and responsibilities competently. In the same way, we denounce worker apathy, corruption, and all forms of crime, hate, and disunity.
Distinguished Gambians and Friends of The Gambia,
Every new year inspires new visions, resolutions, plans, and approaches. For 2024, in line with the new YIRIWA programme, I propose that we adopt Efficiency for Quality Output as our New Year resolution, inject quality into whatever we do, and act as agents of peace and development.
It is only through quality work and quality outputs that durability is guaranteed.
The infrastructure we construct, the work we do at home or in the workplace, the food we eat, and everything we produce would serve better with better quality. Consequently, every citizen should strive for quality development for a quality life.
I urge that all assessments of work done in the country have a component on quality variables of international standard. This is particularly important for service delivery, and it includes government contracts, policies, and personnel hired for public service.
Furthermore, for the attainment of our YIRIWA goals, I advise all public servants and institutions to aim higher, target bigger, and work harder, with a laser focus cast on the people and the environment.
For the Government, the feedback from the last Meet the People Tour was positive and encouraging. We will keep our promises to the people and work together to develop the nation. This is the task at hand.
I must warn that there is growing instability within the sub-region, which we must not entertain. The Gambia has been bitterly unstable before; therefore, let nothing deceive us to fall into that trap ever again.
In this regard, the causes of disorder, such as divisive politics, land issues, and ethnic rivalry must not be condoned.
As a people, let our national pride and collective determination fuel our efforts, while our diversity, knowledge, skills, and values be the transformative tools for the change and development we so badly desire. There is no richer or more potent resource than the people. With everyone on board, no challenge is insurmountable.
Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia,
I congratulate the Gambian community on our successes and count on all of you, as we march into the future.
The world is designed to pose challenges to humankind, which requires prioritisation, making sacrifices, and working hard to attain our goals.
In 2024, among other events, we eagerly look forward to three major events; namely, the OIC Summit, the Janjangbureh Bicentenary Festival and holding a referendum on the new Constitution for the Third Republic. The Government solicits your support as they unfold.
For the cooperation and collaboration we enjoy, I thank all categories of leaders in the country and all those in the public and private sectors. I am also thankful to our development partners and every citizen and friend of The Gambia.
As we celebrate the New Year, let us remember to pray for the lives lost during the year. They include the gentle souls of former Vice President, Badara Joof, our fallen Security personnel, the unfortunate migrants who passed on in their quest for greener pastures, and those who departed this life in one way or another. God’s peace be with them.
To conclude, I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2024 and pray that life gets better with each new year.
God bless us all.
I thank you for your kind attention.