By Alieu Mourinho Jabang in Brussels
As the nation awakened to the shocking pronouncement of President Barrow in the increment of hospital fees, including passports, amidst the government’s desire to proceed with its development programs, someone got to tell the President that he got it all wrong!
If this decision is implemented, a highly impoverished populace like ours will fall on its knees.
This is a country whose more significant chunk of people are wallowing in abject poverty and deprivation, where affording three square meals is a daunting challenge. People are struggling to feed their families, provide their children with school needs, provide better medical care, etc.
We forget that the government pays starvation salaries to civil servants and security personnel equally. Isn’t it worrisome and heart-wrenching to spend a family head an amount of D2500 less than 50 dollars after a whole month’s work? How did Barrow expect such families to feed themselves and pay for school and medical bills, talking less of high identification documents?
This decision, if implemented, will cause severe confrontations between the security personnel and the civilians as many people will not bother to purchase ID cards. It will also result in people abandoning public Healthcare facilities, which may result in unnecessary deaths and critical health problems. Most of these health centers have no medication even after paying D25; you only get a prescription to buy medicine. This has made many Gambians prefer pharmacies to public health care facilities. It will even get worse if this is implemented.
Suppose the President and his government are genuinely interested in having funds for national development. In that case, he should start with himself and his officials instead of tormenting the poor Gambian taxpayers.
The President consumes one hundred and fifty thousand dalasis (D150,000) daily for his fish money, which is four million, five hundred thousand dalasis (D4,500,000) monthly. This will amount to a staggering (D54,000,000) yearly. How much of a gap will D54,000,000 fill in our development programs?
Heads of state in many developed countries, such as the US, the UK, Belgium, Germany, etc, feed themselves from their pockets like every other citizen. Why must Barrow milk us this way?
Again, his ministers allocate service vehicles and utility cars for their wives/ family and children.
Why must we pay them monthly, give them a service vehicle with fuel coupons, and at the same time provide the same privileges to people under their care as if they’re better citizens than the rest of the Gambians?
How many millions does the government spend on those utility cars for Ministers’ families in terms of fuel and maintenance as well as the salaries of their drivers?
Suppose Barrow starts to feed himself and his family and stop the bogus and unnecessary utility vehicle programs. In that case, we can keep more than a hundred million dalasis annually to sustain the entire cost of specific ministries/departments.
President Barrow earned more than D250,000 every month and yet allocated for himself all those privileges together with his cabinet and legislative arms of government, leaving the average Gambians to wallow in poverty and deprivation. This is grossly unfair, and the President needs to be told.