By Ousainou J. Sawaneh (PrinCE OjeE)
The Nominated National Assembly Member, Honorable Yakumba Jaiteh has directed words to the Minister of Finance telling him this time I will tell you, you haven’t done your job the right way, ‘‘because you are not supposed to bring this bill after you already incurred it. Once you incurred; our hands are tied, and that means it has to wait for the normal budget’’ she told the Finance Minister.
Hon. Jaiteh made these comments on Wednesday after the Minister of Finance, Mamburay Njie tabled the Supplementary Appropriation Bill before the Parliament seeking approval from National Assembly Members.
The bill seeks to provide additional public services including national security, election related services, infrastructure, pandemic & disaster related services as well as commitment to international financial institutions.
Further speaking the Nominated member said ‘‘I don’t understand why the Minister always brings this kind of request , asking us to appropriate it when he knows that they have already incurred the cost and he knows if we do , we are doing something illegal’’ she said.
The lawmaker reiterated that they have the powers to appropriate adding that they cannot appropriate what they are not allowed to appropriate. ‘‘The SAP is different from the normal appropriation bill. And it is stated that anything that we’re appropriating must be an expenditure yet to be incurred’’ she explained.
Jaiteh noted that on the list, almost 75% is already expenditure they have incurred. She therefore said they cannot appropriate that. ‘‘Our hands are tied and there is nothing we can do. When we do it then we are doing something illegal’’ she said
Jaiteh stressed that it is their role as legislators to scrutinize what the executive is doing adding when they scrutinize then, they make recommendations and tell the executive what they have done is either right or wrong.
‘‘If you know that you have already incurred it, why are we even here in the first place? We really need to think about that before appropriating this’’ she said.
Various members also contribute in the debate
Hon. Kebba K Barrow, NAM for Kombo South and Majority Leader said our neighbours: Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau etc all allow the diaspora to register to vote. Why is it that The Gambia is denying its citizens their Constitutional right to register to vote?”
“I will not be part of those who will reject this Supplementary Appropriation Bill” ~ Hon. Halifa Sallah, NAM for Serrekunda said.
“There is nothing in this SAP that addresses the needs of Gambians especially food security. No youth empowerment program is factored. Hospitals still struggle with drugs and basic equipment, such like gloves” Hon. Jawara
“We are here to represent our people. If there is excess money, we should think about how to spend that money wisely that will have impact as well as reflect on the lives. I suggest the removal of unnecessary items and inclusion of pressing issues.” Hon. Bakary Njie
“We have 275,000 Gambians living abroad who’ve been disenfranchised for decades. We are behaving as if they don’t matter; but the law is arguing that they do. I would have appreciated if there was money provided here for the registration of these people.
At Committee stage, we should do something about this. This time around, these people must be enfranchised and it is our responsibility to make sure it happens.” Hon. Sedia Jatta
Hon. Assan Touray, NAM for Bakau said in his intervention that before spending huge sums of money on ambulances, why not procure drugs — for they are not available at our hospitals.
Saikouba Jarju, NAM for Busumbala : “The Revising Court is a public demand. There is no political party that is not anticipating for its establishment to do what they want to do.
However when it was the turn of the Finance Minister he emphatically said he has not incurred a dalasi as insinuated by Hon Ya Kumba Jaiteh. Njai told law makers that these are arrears we owe our contractors who have already delivered.