Gambia’s Civil Servants were shocked,following the government’s failure to increase their salaries in the country’s 2006-2007 fiscal year budget,which offered no hope for the nation’s impoverished citizens. As usual, Finance Minister Musa Balla Gaye delivered his budget without any mention of salary increment for the country’s Civil Servants.The  country’s ailing economy is performing below expectations and as such salary increment could not be catered for. The Minister who spent weeks to prepare what many called a “Cooked up” budget was accused in some quarters of being economical with the truth by down playing the nation’s ailing economic realities.

As we are about to enter the new year, the average Gambian Civil Servant is earning less than $50 US dollars per month. Out of the lot, formed the cream of the Gambia’s work force. The lucky ones earned between $75dollars and $100 dollars per month. Remember, most of these Civil Servants are heads of households. They are faced with high cost of living, drugs,education, the list goes on and on….

Over the years, the Jammeh government has not been in the position to increase the salaries of our Civil Servants. Salaries have been stagnant for sometime now. There is little hope for any pay raise in days, months and years to come. Under Jammeh’s watch, hopelessness and uncertainty continues to grip Gambians.

The country’s poverty ratio as of today stands at closely 70 percent. A country of less than 3Million people, the  average Gambian lives below the poverty line. Few communities can afford $1 dollar meal these days.  Confronted by growing inflation and official corruption, the country is also struggling with dreadful diseases  such as HIV/Aids and Malaria.

 Close to ten thousand Gambians have so far died from HIV/Aids, whilst 30 thousand others are said to have contracted HIV, the virus that causes aids. Malaria which is often classified as tropical disease continues to ravage Gambia’s population. The country has witnessed high rate of  infant and maternal mortality cases in recent times. Pregnant women and children below the age of five years accounts for most of the Malaria related death cases.

The government in collaboration with  local NGOS in the country, have been wagging a campaign to tackle the Malaria epidemic. The Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation Against Malaria  had its own office in Banjul. It’s objective is to increase community base Malaria awareness. The Group also promotes Community base outreach  campaign in a bid to tackle the disease. Proper environmental sanitation and the promotion of treated mosquitoes bednets is high on their agenda.

It’s imperative to note that the 2006-2007 fiscal year  budget affected almost all the sectors of society in the Gambia. The Military,the police,the Health Sector,the Communication Industry,Agriculture and other sectors of development are at the receiving end, in this failed budget ever presented by our Finance Department. The Military boys are openly complaining about the government’s attempt to neglect them. They complained about poor pay, lack of incentives,promotion, discrimination among others.

Like the Military, the police also had their own stories to tell. A police Inspector told me that more than 2000 police officers have not been promoted since July of 1994 and their salaries still remained stagnant. The Inspector who works at the Police Head Quarters said due to  poor pay and low staff morale, many junior and senior officers have been tempted to engage in corrupt activities while on and off duties. The Inspector added that some of his colleagues usually conduct private road blocks and drug raids even though they were not on the official clock. That officers engaged in such raids “demanded money from wanting drivers and suspected drug pushers.”

It’s estimated that more than D1million Dalasis goes into the pockets of corrupt Gambian police officers each year. Most of these funds come from the Police License office,Traffic, Drug Squad,Immigration and Prosecution Department. Gambia’s License office is rated to be the most corrupt Departments in the Force. License issuing officers received bribes from nationals overseas to issue Drivers Licenses without observing the Road Traffic rules. They charged nothing less than $300 dollars to process such Licenses, said a police First Class attached to the said Department. The top brass of the License’s office connived with some junior officers to issue such Licenses.

Another money making heaven in the Gambia, is the Immigration Department. Junior and Senior officers received bribes from people trying to obtain our national documents. The Gambian Passport from 1994 to date have went into the hands of many non Gambians. Local Immigration agents charged between $400 to $500 hundred dollars to issue passports to non nationals. It’s very easy to obtain a Gambian Passport, as long as, one is ready to bribe the officers. Gambian nationals residing abroad are usually forced to bribe officers before they can secure their own national documents, said one aggrieved citizen. There are special people at the Immigration Department whose primary job is to process such transactions. Monies derived from the said graft usually don’t reach the National Treasury Department. It goes into the pockets of corrupt Immigration officers.

For this administration to be able to increase salaries for Civil Servants, it must conduct a thorough enquiry into the Financial Activities of  the Police Force, the Immigration and other Departments of state. Even though, these corrupt officers have succeeded in blocking traces of evidence into their corrupt activities, there are some patriotic Gambians and non Gambians alike who are ready to spill the beans before a properly constituted Commission of Enquiry.

We as a nation should be committed to combat graft in all its forms. Fighting graft should be every body’s business. It’s very unfair for few people out there to hold the country into ransom, when the average Gambian is not enjoying the national cake. Our sons and daughters want to have access to  decent houses, schooling, food, cars currently enjoyed by these corrupt public servants. Unless the government tackles graft, there cannot be pay raise. Their  are rats, Drimos, and what not in our midst, whose preoccupation is to steal national coffers.

For the government to win the confidence of donor partners, it should set up an anti corruption special task force, whose job is to police the police, the NIAS, the army, Civil Service and other Developmental Sectors. They should be tasked with the responsibility of  investigating corruption related cases and to bring the perpetrators to book. Setting politics aside, the Gambia belongs to us. We should put all hands on deck to expose agents of corruption and their accomplices. Fighting corruption and diseases is beyond politics. Together, we can make the Gambia, a corruption free nation.

Once again, we urge the government to look into the plight of impoverished Civil Servants. They need decent salaries and standard of living, just like those  few people in government monopolizing the national cake. Jammeh would hate to see these starving Civil Servants calling out from work or organizing national showdown actions. As the saying goes”Prevention is Better than Cure.” To avoid a crisis situation, the government should do what’s expected of it, rather than serving as spectators at this hour. Our country is not moving economically. Those responsible for the ongoing economic crimes and sabotage should pay for the price. Our country men and women deserve better.

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 (Archive on Monday, January 22, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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Gambia’s Civil Servants were shocked,following the government’s failure to increase their salaries in the country’s 2006-2007 fiscal year budget,which offered no hope for the nation’s impoverished citizens. As usual, Finance Minister Musa Balla Gaye delivered his budget without any mention of salary increment for the country’s Civil Servants.The  country’s ailing economy is performing below expectations and as such salary increment could not be catered for. The Minister who spent weeks to prepare what many called a “Cooked up” budget was accused in some quarters of being economical with the truth by down playing the nation’s ailing economic realities.

As we are about to enter the new year, the average Gambian Civil Servant is earning less than $50 US dollars per month. Out of the lot, formed the cream of the Gambia’s work force. The lucky ones earned between $75dollars and $100 dollars per month. Remember, most of these Civil Servants are heads of households. They are faced with high cost of living, drugs,education, the list goes on and on….

Over the years, the Jammeh government has not been in the position to increase the salaries of our Civil Servants. Salaries have been stagnant for sometime now. There is little hope for any pay raise in days, months and years to come. Under Jammeh’s watch, hopelessness and uncertainty continues to grip Gambians.

The country’s poverty ratio as of today stands at closely 70 percent. A country of less than 3Million people, the  average Gambian lives below the poverty line. Few communities can afford $1 dollar meal these days.  Confronted by growing inflation and official corruption, the country is also struggling with dreadful diseases  such as HIV/Aids and Malaria.

 Close to ten thousand Gambians have so far died from HIV/Aids, whilst 30 thousand others are said to have contracted HIV, the virus that causes aids. Malaria which is often classified as tropical disease continues to ravage Gambia’s population. The country has witnessed high rate of  infant and maternal mortality cases in recent times. Pregnant women and children below the age of five years accounts for most of the Malaria related death cases.

The government in collaboration with  local NGOS in the country, have been wagging a campaign to tackle the Malaria epidemic. The Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation Against Malaria  had its own office in Banjul. It’s objective is to increase community base Malaria awareness. The Group also promotes Community base outreach  campaign in a bid to tackle the disease. Proper environmental sanitation and the promotion of treated mosquitoes bednets is high on their agenda.

It’s imperative to note that the 2006-2007 fiscal year  budget affected almost all the sectors of society in the Gambia. The Military,the police,the Health Sector,the Communication Industry,Agriculture and other sectors of development are at the receiving end, in this failed budget ever presented by our Finance Department. The Military boys are openly complaining about the government’s attempt to neglect them. They complained about poor pay, lack of incentives,promotion, discrimination among others.

Like the Military, the police also had their own stories to tell. A police Inspector told me that more than 2000 police officers have not been promoted since July of 1994 and their salaries still remained stagnant. The Inspector who works at the Police Head Quarters said due to  poor pay and low staff morale, many junior and senior officers have been tempted to engage in corrupt activities while on and off duties. The Inspector added that some of his colleagues usually conduct private road blocks and drug raids even though they were not on the official clock. That officers engaged in such raids “demanded money from wanting drivers and suspected drug pushers.”

It’s estimated that more than D1million Dalasis goes into the pockets of corrupt Gambian police officers each year. Most of these funds come from the Police License office,Traffic, Drug Squad,Immigration and Prosecution Department. Gambia’s License office is rated to be the most corrupt Departments in the Force. License issuing officers received bribes from nationals overseas to issue Drivers Licenses without observing the Road Traffic rules. They charged nothing less than $300 dollars to process such Licenses, said a police First Class attached to the said Department. The top brass of the License’s office connived with some junior officers to issue such Licenses.

Another money making heaven in the Gambia, is the Immigration Department. Junior and Senior officers received bribes from people trying to obtain our national documents. The Gambian Passport from 1994 to date have went into the hands of many non Gambians. Local Immigration agents charged between $400 to $500 hundred dollars to issue passports to non nationals. It’s very easy to obtain a Gambian Passport, as long as, one is ready to bribe the officers. Gambian nationals residing abroad are usually forced to bribe officers before they can secure their own national documents, said one aggrieved citizen. There are special people at the Immigration Department whose primary job is to process such transactions. Monies derived from the said graft usually don’t reach the National Treasury Department. It goes into the pockets of corrupt Immigration officers.

For this administration to be able to increase salaries for Civil Servants, it must conduct a thorough enquiry into the Financial Activities of  the Police Force, the Immigration and other Departments of state. Even though, these corrupt officers have succeeded in blocking traces of evidence into their corrupt activities, there are some patriotic Gambians and non Gambians alike who are ready to spill the beans before a properly constituted Commission of Enquiry.

We as a nation should be committed to combat graft in all its forms. Fighting graft should be every body’s business. It’s very unfair for few people out there to hold the country into ransom, when the average Gambian is not enjoying the national cake. Our sons and daughters want to have access to  decent houses, schooling, food, cars currently enjoyed by these corrupt public servants. Unless the government tackles graft, there cannot be pay raise. Their  are rats, Drimos, and what not in our midst, whose preoccupation is to steal national coffers.

For the government to win the confidence of donor partners, it should set up an anti corruption special task force, whose job is to police the police, the NIAS, the army, Civil Service and other Developmental Sectors. They should be tasked with the responsibility of  investigating corruption related cases and to bring the perpetrators to book. Setting politics aside, the Gambia belongs to us. We should put all hands on deck to expose agents of corruption and their accomplices. Fighting corruption and diseases is beyond politics. Together, we can make the Gambia, a corruption free nation.

Once again, we urge the government to look into the plight of impoverished Civil Servants. They need decent salaries and standard of living, just like those  few people in government monopolizing the national cake. Jammeh would hate to see these starving Civil Servants calling out from work or organizing national showdown actions. As the saying goes”Prevention is Better than Cure.” To avoid a crisis situation, the government should do what’s expected of it, rather than serving as spectators at this hour. Our country is not moving economically. Those responsible for the ongoing economic crimes and sabotage should pay for the price. Our country men and women deserve better.

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 (Archive on Monday, January 22, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
Return

 

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Following the human rights day celebrations worldwide, Madam Julia Joiner made a statement on the occasion onbehalf of the African Union. Gambisara contacted her in her AU office for an approval to publish the statement, which she approved. I will use this opportunity to advise President Jammeh and his APRC administration that the Freedom Newspaper does not harbour any grudge against them. We direct our comments on your administration because you are the political leaders and vested with the authority by the Gambian People to steer state matters. Please advise your cabinet to respond to members of the press to avoid rumors. Onbehalf of the Freedom Newspaper, I thank Madam Joiner for her cooperation and look forward to mutual cooperation in the future.
 
Below is her unedited statement:
 
MESSAGE OF H. E. MRS. JULIA DOLLY JOINER COMMISSIONER FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY (10TH DECEMBER 2006)
 
Fifty-eight years ago on December 10, 1948, The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations and called upon all Member Countries to publicise the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of counties or territories.”
 
This Declaration has inspired several global and regional human rights instruments, including in particular, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in June 1981.  Article 25 of the African Charter echoes one of the provisions of the Declaration and calls upon States Parities to the Charter to promote and ensure through teaching and publication, the respect of the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter and to see to it that these freedoms and rights as well as corresponding obligations are understood.
 
Today, 10 December 2006, International Human Rights Day, the international spotlight is on poverty: Fighting poverty a matter of obligation, not charity.
 
In observing the day, the African Union wishes to rededicate itself to upholding the standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as stipulated in objective (e) of its Constitutive Act: “to encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
 
The African Union also wishes to reiterate its determination to take up the multifaceted challenges that confront our continent and peoples in the light of the social, economic and political changes taking place in the world.
 
Poverty is a human rights issue underscored by the fact that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing and that all human rights must be treated in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis.
 
There should be no more excuse for our peoples to be poor, especially on this continent that is endowed with huge enormous resources.  Poverty undermines our peoples’ dignity and deprives them of access to justice, health, and education, to name but a few.
 
The African Union is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which is evident in its Human Rights, Governance, HIV/AIDS, Food Security programs, among others, in fulfilment of the objectives of its Constitutive Act, which underscores respect for democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law and good governance.
The establishment of specialised institutions and organs within the African Union aimed at promoting peace, social justice, the rule of law and consolidating human and peoples’ rights demonstrates the political will as well as the determination of African leaders and their peoples to make human rights central to combating poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity on the continent.
 
As we commemorate the 58th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I would like to call upon the international community and our peoples, including community leaders, individuals, the media, civil society organisations to join the AU in its efforts to make poverty history and restore the human rights and dignity of our peoples.  Poverty retards the development of our continent and the actualisation of the aspirations of the founders of the African Union for a united and prosperous Africa .
 
It is only through our collective efforts that we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals that we have set for ourselves by 2015 and in doing so realise our objective of eradicating poverty within our communities.
 
Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2006 (Archive on Sunday, December 31, 2006)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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