I have watched with great interest the broadcast of your meeting with the Muslim elders on the traditional meeting between the president and religious elders during the Eid-ul-Fitr Festivities. In that meeting, Mr President, you told Muslim elders that two or three weeks earlier, you bought a bag of rice for nine hundred dalasis (D900). And then you seemed to question why the critics cannot appreciate that fact.
From the look of things, it seems to me that you have lost touch with the base; with the general population and what the citizens in the country are going through. It is true that the government announced that there was a reduction of taxes on basic commodities like rice and other condiments, but that didn’t do a thing in bringing down prices of goods. Perhaps you didn’t know this; now I am telling you that nothing has reduced in prices.
Citizens have repeatedly complained of this problem and could not seem to get a grasp as to why that was the case. During the Ramadan, the Kerr Fatou Show invited the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr IsatouTouray to try to find out why that was the case. The minister spoke about what government is doing to ensure that prices go down but unfortunately, that is not happening.
It is therefore necessary to bring to your notice that everything is not rosy in the country. Whoever sold a bag of rice for D900 to you has perhaps not told you the whole truth. The hard fact is that Gambians are still buying rice for D1200. The price of potatoes and onions actually doubled just before Ramadan despite the tax cuts. To a layman like me, I would have thought that with the tax cuts taking effect in January, the price reduction would have come as early as April or May.
It is quite possible that you are being misinformed of the cost of goods and services in the country. Mr President, as a citizen, I want to use this medium to inform you that things are indeed very difficult in the country. Prices are skyrocketing, and the earning power of civil servants is stagnated. Thus, we are bound to observe some form of increment in corruption and corrupt practices as people must survive anyway.
Therefore, it is extremely important to have Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression. These are the things that will keep government informed so that policymakers will keep the peoples’ concerns in view. Unfortunately, I heard you take a jibe at critics as well. You said that the critics, especially those on social media, are making too much noise and mostly on negative issues only. That is also not a bad thing, Mr President. It is true that genuine critics should highlight both the successes and failures of the government – which some of us do – but the focus should be on the failures. You only wash clothes that are dirty and not the ones that are clean.
So, take the criticisms as a platform to learn of the mistakes and the things going wrong with a view to rectifying them. Do not take them as rantings of enemies. We are all in this together. Your success is our success and your failures are ours. This is how we build a nation.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen