By Arret Jatta
The Chairperson of The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Gambia (TANGO), Mr John Charles Njie, has raised concerns about corruption crippling the health sector and increasing poverty levels in the country. Mr Njie beleives that Gambians “need to rethink our National Priorities” in order to manage this crisis. In reaction to these claims the Minster of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon Seedy Keita responded that there is more corruption in the Private Sector than in Government.
The dialogue took place at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) one day dialogue on Managing the high cost of living and food insecurity in The Gambia on Friday 4th November 2022 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center. Although Mr Njie advocated for the passing of the Anti-Corruption Bill which has been in Parliament for over 2 years now, Minister Keita beleives legislation alone is not enough to address corruption.
Mr Njie started by recognising the current world economic crisis caused by the devastating impacts of Covid-19 and the Russia – Ukraine war, however, in his view “it makes no economic sense to be facing these big realities yet we see things that go beyond the roof, for instance, three weeks ago over thirty officials travelled to the UN who were given 250 pounds per person for 7 days, yet in this same country we do not have basic drug testing facility that has cost us 70 innocent lives”.
The TANGO Chairperson highlighted the increasing number of corruption incidents in the country which have still not been addressed. “What we do not understand is the number of corruption allegations in this country [which] continue to go unattended we need to rethink our National priorities”.
Shifting his attention to the Political class Mr Njie says they “continue to amaze us, you bemoan the prevalence of corruption in our motherland yet you have the power in parliament to hold our government accountable, right before you is the bill to check corruption from 2019, what urgency have you given to this? We look to you to address the issues of corruption with urgency”.
The Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Seedy M. Keita who was also present at the dialogue responded to Mr Njie’s statement by saying that one doesn’t need just legislation to fight corruption, they have had a taste of what it takes to close loopholes and they are working on enhancing public transparency and public accountability.
“It is not only government that is corrupt, corruption is a cross-cutting issue and there is more corruption in the private sector than in the government” he said.
TANGO Chairperson urged the Government to re-evaluate its expenditure and cut down on unnecssary spending. Mr Njie urged the Government to conisder the impact of the President’s upcoming tour and to use the Tour to “take a deep breath look around you, hear, see, and feel the pain of The Gambia people, The nation is hungry, the nation is angry” he concluded.