Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

BARROW GOVERNMENT TURNED KILLING MACHINE

June 21, 2018

BURAMA JAMMEH

For 22 years Yahya administration killed our citizens from Sadibou Hydara to Solo Sandeng and ALL those in between. Many others were abused and their lives/livelihoods destroyed. Others were forced into exile. Justice for all these victims was a central pillar of our struggle only to be downplayed by Barrow administration as a matter of TRUTH and RECONCILIATION. There will be no reconciliation without justice first.

Barrow administration’s security agents killed a young man in Kanilai for only demonstrating against soldiers stationed in Kanilai. Yesterday, they unleashed armed security agents at peaceful demonstration of villagers (or environmental activists) in Faraba Banta where they killed 2 and injured several others – per reports. What is/are the crime(s) of these demonstrators/activists that’s punishable by death? At this rate Barrow government will kill 44 people using security agents and guns by the time they’re 22 years in office. That is unacceptable!

Barrow government has already demonstrated enough they are afraid/paranoiac of FREE EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION. Mamma Kandeh was denied permit to hold a rally. Last December organizers of demonstration against acute electricity shortages were denied permit. They were also lobbied by Senior public Servants to call-off planned demonstrations. The same was true for demonstrations demanding justice for victims of human right abuses during Yahya’s administration.

These are not democrats. They‘re not committed to making Gambia a functioning institutional democracy. These are kleptocrats who used our struggle to return to political power to loot what they were denied by Yahya.

For now, we want to know:

i. Who deployed ARMED SECURITY FORCES at a peaceful demonstration in a village?
ii. What authority (law) is that deployment based on?
iii. Who asked for the shooting of demonstrators?
iv. What was the justification for that request?
v. Who granted orders to shoot at demonstrators?
vi. What law(s) support the order to shoot at peace demonstrators?
vii. What were the crime(s) committed by those shot?
viii. Or did the security agents go rogue/shooting people on their own?
ix. What’re the general public safety policy in arming security agents?

These questions can only be truthfully answered by a thorough and independent investigation. The same is true for the killing at Kanilai which has long been brushed aside. It came to knowledge that Dr. Barrow appointed one Lawyer Emmanuel Joof as Chairperson to investigate The Faraba Banta Incident. We’re all for investigate but wonder if these incidents are by definition not homicides that would require a different set of skill set than a human rights lawyer. Or at minimum Lawyer Joof’s efforts should include the work of Police Homicide Unit findings for a complete wrap on this matter. The other troubling observation of the presidential appointing either undercut the authority of local authorities in charge of this matter or there was no local authority. Both undermine the functioning of institutional democracy. In a functioning democracy this matter should be adequately handle between Western Region, the District Faraba Banta belong (is it Kombo Narang?) and Faraba Banta governments.

Democratic government do not kill citizens. Democratic government protect citizens and their properties. Anytime government kill a citizen it should be thoroughly investigated and lawfully concluded.

Barrow government is still enjoying political honeymoon. Gambians are generally relieved that Yahya is history. They haven’t fully size up Barrow’s policy prescriptions and their aspirations. There are effectively no opposition; instead with the exception of PDOIS and Mamma Kandeh the other parties are competing for better position in the government.

This neither changed the fundamentals nor will it last. FUNDAMENTALLY WE DID NOT VOTE FOR DR. BARROW; WE VOTED AGAINST DR. YAHYA. The honeymoon will come to an end. Killing our citizens and continuous harder living conditions will only expedite calling off the honeymoon and face reality.

Until these cases are solved and all those during Yahya’s reign your hands as bloody as the perpetrators.

Finally, lasting solution to our political problems is neither some feel good presidential proclamation nor pre-determined investigation or even sending several wick links to Mile 2.

We need a PARADIGM SHIFT IN GOVERNANCE.

Stay tuned for what that means

God Bless Gambia…

POLICE BRUTALITY IN NEW GAMBIA?

June 18, 2018

No person except sadist would condone the medieval brutality of unarmed civilians particularly in 21st century democracy. Albeit the circumstances encompassing the murder of two environmental activists in Faraba Banta have not yet been established, that fact remains the act is callous and disheartening.

Many are arguably asking for the head of IGP Kinteh to roll without a comprehensive and conclusive investigation of the police involvement of the two murders in Faraba Banta. Hasty conclusions can almost always lead to regrettable decisions. What is prudent is to first established who fired the shots which killed the two innocent civilians. That should follow with the detention and investigation if the officer(s) to establish whether they acted under an order. If it was ordered for them to open live ammunition, who gave the order and to what extend was IGP Kinteh involved.

Perhaps, the officer(s) acted in sheer panick and alone. In that case, the officer will be sole held responsible for acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally. This only goes to reiterate that our security apparatus need urgent and thorough rehabilitation. After 22 years of carrying out heinous crimes for a sick dictator it is absolute necessity for rehabitate and reform the security services. It is virtually the same people who killed and maimed for Jammeh who are still executing security roles for us today.

It is hurtful but we must act with care and due diligence to get to the bottom of this barbaric act. Measures must be in place to avert using medieval brutality as means of curb antiestablishment and prevention of civil manifestations. The Barrow leadership must not only issue a reaffirming statement but act swift to dispense justice.

 

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

YOUR A B C AND 1 2 3 OF POLITICAL ECONOMY BY SARJO BANYANG, UK Part 19: POLITICS OF FOOD AND MEDICATION BUSINESS

June 13, 2018

Food and medication are two commodities that command very large market share in the business world. Health and nutrition experts will say that too little food is not enough to keep you fit, especially of low quality. Yet we also see how eating too much food has

SARJO BAYANG-A SOCIAL THINKER

unhealthy consequences.

Those with plenty money have higher purchasing power to buy and eat lot of food. Low income bracket and those with weaker purchasing power have limited ability to pay for daily required food. They also lack the means of paying for health maintenance cost. The food supply to society is loaded with material that poses health challenges. Not just food but other businesses pose some public health risks needing remedial government intervention.

Used cars, processed foodstuff, second hand clothes, computers and many other consumer goods are among health risk items conveniently dumped in some countries by profiteering traders.

In other countries, illicit trade on cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs slowly consumes youth population with very high health maintenance cost including rehabilitation. It results to loss of vital human capital through diminished capacity due to poor health and untimely deaths.

To prevent unhealthy consequences faced by a population at risk requires government responsibility for taking right steps regulating trade in food and other potentially harmful items.

Social and Economic Status by Appearance

In some societies building large body fat is associated with good life. By that perception, those that grow belly fat, get teased with remarks like “you are really eating your money”;often meaning enjoying good life from one’s earnings.

People who grow fat cheeks with big belly hanging below their chest are also associated with better economic status. Sunken eyes, dried lips and pale bodies are considered unhealthy condition, symbolic of low economic status in society.

On television screen, Internet and other mass communication instruments, we are bombarded with images of food poverty, sickness and abundance in extremes. A close look at the politics of food and medication reveals interesting contrasts with contradictions.

Junk Food Supply

In developed countries, the junk food business runs on the fastest track to profit. People decorate their home kitchens and not cooking homemade food. At street corners, fast food, cafés and takeaways are common. Continental food items also stand in big competition with traditional homemade.

Immigrants have not just settled with bag and baggage. They have their foodstuff and lifestyle brought along. Some of the foodstuff have no equivalent names in host countries. They only not gained social acceptance. Now you can find continental food names in standard dictionaries.

A comedian once joked about visiting fast food outlet with dancing lambs. The comedian is referring to kebab spinner with roasted lamb meat. You all know how much fat drips when kebab is served.

Junk food supply is extended to underdeveloped countries where shipments of low quality edibles are dumped at seaports for distribution. Some of the foodstuff expire and still being consumed. Ranging from canned foods, grains, poultry and dairy stuff, junk food is readily available.

Fast food business is fashionable and trendy. In some countries fast food was generally available at street corner and road sides. Bread and butter have been served as school lunch sandwichfor children. Adults too have taken good bite while on the move or at work sometimes with tea.

The growth of junk food has reached higher proportion by popularity and demand. Food business is no longer a matter for small scale hawking. There is real investment with capital intensive machinery and equipment.

Experienced hotel workers in some places find suitable occupation by venturing into food business. This is more so with those in the catering sector. Whatever the experience or motivation,street outdoor eating business operateson fast gears and junk food comes in ever increasing large volume supply.

With growth of popularity for junk food on the rise, there is higher probability that this may also trigger underpinning health issues by association.

Preventive Health and Medication

Production and increased supply of medication indicates a sickening population. Hospital ambulances run side by side with fire fighters as though on equal state of alert.

The question everyone is asking relates to the role of government in preventive health care as opposed to medication.

Good standard health care in preventive service is more assuring and cost effective. Keeping the population healthy and fit by providing the enabling environment reduces cost of medication while giving everyone the occasion to enjoy good life. There are many contributing factors to a sickening population.

Pollution and other health related environment issues are within the remit of government to sanction and regulate.

Trade in some high demand items is killing not just the immediate consumer population but causing slow death to the economy by occasion.

Alcohol and drug related deaths are on the rise. Some of these harmful consumer items are distributed through illicit trading practices that government can do something about.

Regulating Food/Beverages and MedicineBusiness

Even though there may be regulations in place meant to protect society from harmful trade practices, much needed doing.

Consumers are at risk of so much harmful trade that escape competent scrutiny. The food industry account for high volume of business that puts consumers at risk of junk.

Society is also exposed to other health risk conditions found in drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and used items. The motivation for profits is fuelling some of these businesses to the extent of illicit trading practices requiring government intervention.

Due to high motivation economic interest, some potentially harmful trading practices keep going on over time.

Illicit trading is not only common for consumer items. In some countries, faked commodities include even medicine that is meant to keep society healthy.

Society is faced withcritical health threats due to hazardous exposure. It comes in food supplies, second hand materials and various consumer items.

Illicit trading practice runs along various corridors of economic and social interest. It is not enough to have regulations that only facilitate revenue collection to fill up government coffers. When public health and safety is at risk of harm, much needs doing.

A healthy economy is sustained by a healthy population. Similarly, a healthy cash flow is good for the economy, however not when it is sourced from businesses that put public health and safety at risk of harm.

Critical observation of regulations regarding business reveals considerable gaps needing to fill up. For example, where the regulations providebusiness registration for legal operations, it is often silent about public health and safety. That is why free trade permits loose hands to operate on society, exposing their immediate consumers and everyone in public to avoidable hazards.

The situation becomes more dangerous and unsuitable when health risks get higher due to making of little hands driving the economy for profit without conforming to what corporate social responsibility demands. Extending that to selling and distribution of faked medicine is mass social murder that government has responsibility to arrest.

When consumers suffer harm or possibly die from faked medicine, bad food or unregulated consumption of alcohol, it is simply taken as natural. Some of those harms are preventable with proper regulations in place, not just on paper but by concrete punitive actionmeted out to perpetrators.

Until such time policy provisions and regulations take serious account of public health and safety in relation to businesses, the economy may be seen growing but at high risk to everyone in society.

This article features only a little bite on the big cake. There are latent issues pertaining to public health and safety linked to so many businesses that the regulations are silent about. It is time that frank talk begins before society succumbs to unavoidable health consequences. A stitch in time saves nine over the long run.

YOUR A B C AND 1 2 3 OF POLITICAL ECONOMY BY SARJO BAYANG PART 18: ALIENATION OF IMMIGRATION AND THE ECONOMY

June 6, 2018

SARJO BAYANG-A SOCIAL THINKER

Depending on your economic status and professional ranking in another country you are called immigrant or have the class title of expatriate. Check the meaning of these two words.

Politics of immigration has underpinning economic instruments of measurement that we may not all know or see, observing by the naked eye. In the open, it is clearly seen that immigrants are profiled according to classified economic ranking. That fact remains unshaken.

History of immigration will be omitted with crucial missing information without proper account of first explorers as immigrants who ventured faraway territories searching for wealth or fame. Discovery of valuable treasure triggered an economic interest that saw the emergence of colonies.

Deep search into many history books by renown scholars failed to reveal the mission of ancient explorers as immigration. If immigration means settlement by travellers in the host country, then colonial settlers constituted the first leg of immigrants without being called that name.

Free universal movement of people in ancient society permitted the occasion for exploration and exploitation. Colonialism as historical epoch paved the way for massive scale control over people and resources which continues until modern face of globalisation as we know it today.

Economic ValueContribution of Immigrants

Immigrant contribution account for high volume wealth being enjoyed by others. They accept low wages where others enjoy high salaries. The informal sector employers take undue advantage of immigrant workers to generate and grow their profit through low wages for all the hard work.

Remittances and other forms of support rendered by immigrants account for larger contribution in their native countries. By account of their value adding contribution, immigrants are key economic stakeholders for their native and host countries. Unfortunately, political injustice permits the alienation of immigrants by both native and host countries.

Considering the cost and enduring pain of travel, there are always good reasons why people undertake journey to faraway territories.

For some people travel is an adventure. Number of people travel for the joy of it. Business travel is mostly for economic reasons.

Apart from geographical boundaries, there are also flags of economic barriers in place preventing immigrants.

Occasionedby universal movement, all countries put in measures where people considered economic burden are restricted while those seen to make value adding contributions are encouraged to stay temporal or permanent. That is the economic logic of immigration politicians often don’t talk about in the open.

Immigration is a challenge faced by those moving and the ones that control their movement.

Immigrants Working More for Less

From least developed to higher ranking economies, immigrant workers are most ready to take up tougher challenging jobs than the rest.

For the immigrant it is a matter of readiness to do something with their valuable time. There is hardly an occasion for pick and choose. Immigrants often work round the clock sometimes for least paid jobs. They work long hours to make up any difference in the pay gap.

Immigrant workers are prone to colossal scale of marginalisation and exploitation. Profiteering commercial business outfits raise and grow their capital mostly from exploiting immigrant workers.

Job security is not mentioned when immigrant workers are hired. That is why they get easily fired. Although laws may be in place as though out to protect everyone, immigrants do not always enjoy the same level of protection in some countries.

Alienation of Immigration

Experience of alienation meted out to immigrants comes in diverse ways. In some countries immigration rules are not friendly enough. Besides legal and political restrictions, immigrants also face social barriers.

By experience in some countries, immigrants are granted political and legal status which does not readily translate into economic integration.

Immigration as we know it today came about with bars raising higher and tougher travel restrictions imposed in protection of mapped out territories.

Alienation of immigration taking economic and social dimension makes the challenge most real. In some places and communities, alienation of others outside their immediate habitat is not a matter of nationality.

There are communities with least or no tolerance for anyone from elsewhere. They want to remain by themselves with no room for new settlers. This type of alienation is seen even in some developed nations, especially within remote communities.

Social alienation in the experience of immigrants varies. Immigrants are profiled in different outfits. There is this general belief that immigrants are job grabbers or exploiters of business opportunities. The truth is that in some countries, immigrants have more to offer than others. They take up jobs that others consider less paying or rather inferior. Immigrants also accept less commitment from employers who enjoy the free hand of quick hire and fire without legal penalties. Some immigrants create employment; thereby contributing to taxable revenue.

Nationalism and protection of economic interest are two common reasons why talks about immigration generate lot of noise.

Undocumented immigrants face even more challenging constraints amid the ugly experience of alienation.

Misinformed sectors of society who normally form good numbers tend to believe that immigrants are alien invaders from another planet. Those least informed in society act, talk, and like to molest immigrants. For some of them, immigrants simply don’t deserve good life. Such extremes are found in deprived communities or within a class of those with antiimmigrant sentiments even within society.

Success stories of immigrants

When immigrants face the hostile environment infested with alienation by governments and individuals, it sometimes fuels their determination to succeed.

After all the alienation coupled with antagonistic political environment experienced during their stay in another country, some immigrants rise higher.

Some immigrants having acquired life changing skills land themselves on lucrative job positions within the host nation or upon return to native homeland.

Success stories of immigrants include those becoming high profile politicians, doctors, lawyers, professors, business tycoons, and other key responsible post holders in public or private sector.

Immigrants have also become state ministers. Others have risen to the position of President or Prime Minister in their native homeland.

Some countries have encouraged immigrants become value adding contributors in various disciplines.

Solving the immigration quagmire

Immigrants constitute most active population of human capital from somewhere. Given the opportunity and enabling environment, some immigrants have value adding contribution wherever they are. It is also true that other immigrants are not all that resourceful.

In all nations, reality of immigration relates to political, economic, social, and legality. The bottom line is that immigrants can be assets or liabilities. Alienation of immigrants has consequences.Politicians have the challenge of dealing with immigration in ways that create best shared gains.

Your A B C and 1 2 3 of Political Economy By Sarjo Bayang Part 17: Balance Sheet of The Nation

May 13, 2018

SARJO BAYANG-A SOCIAL THINKER

For individuals, organisations and nations, borrowing is one of sources that fuels the economic engine. Government borrowing usually gets done behind closed doors where the deal is sealed without some of us being consulted or simply informed.

What we may not also know is that any person, organisation, institution or nation that has assets at hand also keeps a load on the head. Just like lending institutions including banks, a Balance Sheet reveals net worth in clear picture.

When you see a person, institution or government with possessions, they may also be owing others. Direct borrowing is when money or material is received and to be paid for at agreed terms. Until the final payment is made, the borrower has a bundle of liability to carry.

Governments, individuals and organisations assume liability for unpaid wages, goods, or services rendered to them. Examples include staggering high cost utilities bills that some government institutions owe to suppliers for very long periods. Some of it gets written off over time while household customers are being chased for lower bills.

A Situation of Cannot but Borrow

Elementary Arithmetic teaches how big numbers get subtracted from small ones. The method is by having to borrow ten (10). Adding 10 increases the small number large enough to permit deduction of the single digit figure ranging from 1 to 9. Children being introduced to this number interplay may find it interesting.

As you and your problems grow, it comes clear that real life imposes situations that compel borrowing by individuals, organisations, institutions, and even states.

Until we hear news about banks being bankrupt, some of us assume that financial institutions serving as lenders hold unlimited stock of raw cash. Nations also borrow when circumstances arise. That borrowing affects everyone in society.
When personal problem size gets to be larger than content of your pocket, many will apply the simple arithmetic method; “cannot but borrow”. Just like that child faced with needing to take away big number from smaller, real life imposes similar challenges faced by many.

Economic power expressed in figures, count in money and material numbers. Due to the reality of uneven distribution some people have more while lot of us having less. Does it mean that the few rich enjoy better friendship with money and material than rest of us?

National Balance Sheet

Logic and accounting concept of Balance Sheet is simply to establish from what is owned how much is owed. In practice, when you take away what is owed from that owed, any difference becomes the balance.

If what is owed turns out to be more than owned, that situation reveals bottom level or net worth in the negative. To own more than what is owed means high level value status also seen as positive balance in net worth.

This accounting method of establishing Net Worth is applicable to businesses, organisations, individuals, and government all around the world. There is always a situation claiming ownership of money or other resources. By what the naked eyes can see, it is not possible to know if high volume possession of money and material also means high level Net Worth in the Balance Sheet.
Why it is called Balance Sheet may relate to history of accounting where the Net Worth is presented on sheets of paper showing positive or negative status. You can draw your own Balance Sheet to determine personal net worth.

Like organisations, businesses, and individuals, government as an established entity also owns and owes. To some of us, government is so rich that over long period many hands are kept on payroll including least productive. Public sector employment has biggest volume of liability in idle unproductive hands that hardly comes up on the National Balance Sheet.

Government offices also keep their lights, computers, refrigerators and other appliances on as though there is no bill to pay. We also see how government buys and maintains fleet of cars. A car for the boss on home to office commuting. Another car for taking children to and from school. Perhaps a third car for lifting the Mrs and other family members on private errands. Running cost plus other payments when added brings up real high figures for keeping a government in operation.

Producing a Balance Sheet is not for mere accounting decoration with neatly presented figures. In best use the Balance is meant to serve as instrument of reference. The Balance Sheet on one accounting period serves as point of reference for adjustments required in coming times.

One good use of Balance Sheet is to help cut down cost and raise the Net Worth profile to better position. Critical to making that informed decision is the occasion of identifying assets and liabilities. Key task of improvement is by cutting down cost while making gains through increasing net worth.

Providing clear public information on Balance Sheet of the nation will contribute to shared responsibility for everyone making informed decision about government Assets and Liabilities.

Net Worth of the Nation

Identifying Assets and Liabilities is key line of enquiry when plotting a Balance Sheet. It is not clear to many of us what counts as assets or liabilities of our government and whole nation. Many of us have never seen a government Balance Sheet.

We take for granted that all will be working. It is normally once a year when Minister of Finance talks about the financial situation by occasion of Annual Budget Session. Government comes up with forecasts of the economy and financial weather. When it rains though, not everyone has their fields wet enough to expect good harvest.

The nation’s Balance Sheet is not often interpreted in a language those of us understand good enough. It is loaded with technical jargon beyond simple understanding.

Next time our capable Finance Minister talks about state of the economy, we all want to hear it loud and clear. We want it translated in economic value terms. Economic growth of 2.5% does not convey any clear meaning or vital message for those of us not knowing the standard measurement. Tell us in simple language how that translates into amount of food basins per population over period in question. We also want to know how healthy the cash flow situation improves from previous hard years. Tell us the national debt in proportion to assets we see in the open.

Social Assets and Economic Liabilities

Not everyone in society contribute to the national wealth by equal value adding proportion. Some people are more resourceful and work harder than others.

The population put trust in one basket of values handed to selected few for safe and proper custody. When resources are prudently allocated; properly managed, we expect an increase in assets and reduction of liabilities.

Those who contribute to creating more wealth and bring about the good life we all dream about are bankable resourceful assets to everyone. Others who feed on resources without compensating the cost of their upkeep, we count them as liabilities to society.
At some extremes, less resourceful persons in society create situations of counterproductivity. They fail to deliver and cover their lack of productivity by creating unhealthy atmosphere especially at work. In the process, some productive persons with value adding potential get demotivated.

Your Personal Debt of State Borrowing

We may not be told that money borrowed by government is putting everyone in debt including the unborn. After the National Balance Sheet is plotted, money borrowed by government is accounted as liability to everyone.

On other hand, when government manages to increase the asset position from what is borrowed, everyone has some value added in turn. Though that is expected to bring about an increase in total good life effect, it does not always come by most readily.
To know your personal status in national debt position, first find out how much the government is owing. That amount when divided in proportion to the population reveals how much debt you and everyone is owing.

Knowing that everyone bears the burden of national debt makes public consultation crucial to decision making about what the nation owns and owes.

State resources are not always properly accounted for. That makes it difficult to produce a clean Balance Sheet established on realistic inflow and outflow of state possessions. Getting the population informed will contribute to ensuring transparency that many governments lack.

By producing relevant facts and figures interpreted for everyone’s best understanding the National Balance becomes effective government accountability measure. It is also reliable source of public information that good governance is meant to be.
Human Capital Value Accounting in National Balance Sheet

Accounting profession utilises suitable instruments and concepts to place value on assets. We hear about depreciation and scrap value; meaning a state of diminished useful condition.

Human capital is considered as valuable input of combined resources that keep an establishment in functional outfit. It makes sense to include this vital asset when drawing Balance Sheet; especially for the nation.

Taking stock of resourceful human capital will reveal the extent to which a nation relies on productive labour required for national development.

Politics is about numbers in vote count. The economy requires those numbers in resourceful human capital value contribution. Enhancing human capital resourcefulness optimises value adding contribution to the economy. That by itself renders a healthy National Balance Sheet required for everyone’s good life.

UDP AND THE POLITICAL REALISM OF NEW GAMBIA

May 13, 2018

Sulayman Jeng

The proverbial dictum “numbers don’t lie” has stamped its truthfulness in the just concluded local government election results in new Gambia. What many ran away into solace with is the notion that social media is the sculptor of our Gambian election outcome. As such, we caressingly deduct social media activism particularly Facebook lives actualise votes on pooling day. This inconclusive notion lends support to the assumption that the numbers that go to support candidates on nomination day and to some campaign venues comfortably signals victory. Tested experience has proven that most of such numbers on the ground and support by diaspora activists on social media never translated into actual votes. Unlike Dr Ceesay’s failed prediction of the Banjul mayoral results, my assertion is amply demonstrated in results. For instance, if my claim is as shallow as his Lizzie Euston and Bakary Badjie would have been victorious and GDC would not have registered a laudable results.

It is also legit to assert albeit all parties have certain localised support in the constituencies: UDP in Jarra, APRC in Foni and PDOIS in Wuli etc for any party and/or politician to win election must stay relevant. Relevance in terms of resonating with the grassroots: needs, fears and aspirations. The campaign and results have manifested that Gambian politics has moved significantly from tribal and elitism politics to relevance, competence and inclusion. Perhaps, many who voted Rohey Lowe would not have if it were not for Lamin Jaiteh’s despicable video packaging her in a caste box.

UDP, despite being constantly crafted by its sceptics as a tribal and violent party continues to win overwhelmingly in all the election cycles. Others preposterously ascribed its victory to incumbency. Last time I checked UDP isn’t the party in government but part of a coalition in government. It wins because it remains relevant. Most of its partisan activities are executed by members and local social media team on the ground with constantly connect with the grassroots. The diaspora social media team compliments the efforts of their colleagues on the ground. Come 2021, UDP will comfortably win the presidency and secure majority in the National Assembly. UDP isn’t just a campaign period party, it works 24/7 not only to expand its membership but make Gambia a better place to live.

GAMBIAN ECONOMY WILL NOT GROW WITHOUT ENHANCING PRIVATE SECTOR ENTERPRISES

May 8, 2018

SARJO BAYANG-A SOCIAL THINKER

Overall orientation and focus of Gambia’s Trade Policy is more external driven; far from home. Going by World Trade Organisation WTO 2018 Review Report, everything about Gambia tilts towards window dressing of the economy to suit agenda of external development partners. The World Trade Organisation WTO terms must be met before they accept Gambia as Trading Partner in the global arena.

Private sector engagement is not given serious commitment except for what external development partners prefer to accept. There is no mention of any suitable economic model that suits development requirements for Gambia.

Failure to formulate the right policy and most readily applicable economic model is critical imbalance when seeking to redress harshly imposed challenges like what Gambia faces. In the review report there is no mention of suitable economic development model for Gambia.

Concluding remarks by Chair of WTO Trade Policy Review states;

“Members also welcomed that The Gambia had modernized its food safety, TBT, industrial property and government procurement regimes. Reference was also made to the opportunities arising from tourism and logistics. The Gambia was invited to consider acceding to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement and several WIPO treaties, and was encouraged to deposit its instrument of acceptance of the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement. In response, the Gambian delegation informed Members that The Gambia had started consultations with WIPO on the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.”

Please refer to sourced document below:

https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp465_crc_e.htm

To begin with, Gambia does not have the economic environment for industrial development. Any talks about “industrial property” is unfitting the occasion.

Conforming with protocol, Gambia like other nations in same disadvantaged position wishing to be accepted must agree with terms and conditions of external development partners. The Gambian economic reality is not tuned up for type of trade suggested in WTO Review Report 2018.

Gambian economy runs on distribution business with least industrial elements. Lot of work is required in advancing from this petty trader economic operation before moving goal posts towards industrial trade agreements with external development partners.

Not to deal with the immediate economic reality and seeking to take up challenges beyond prevailing economic circumstances will be a real high jump of the goal posts with least prospects of scoring.

Economic reality of Gambia is not Wealth Creating

Key character of Gambian economic arena is identified by low or medium volume distribution business. From independence, the economic infrastructure has not been enhanced to facilitate industrial trading activities.

There are commercial banks that lend out to selected low risk merchants mainly engaged in distributive trade. Cash flow is not healthy enough and in very limited circulation.

Producers of primary commodities have no bargaining power. Prices are determined by profiteering merchants. Producers barely retain just what keeps them going.

Families rely on limited income from those in gainful employment at home and abroad. Primary producers sell at marginally low market values. Gambian economy is not properly tuned up as wealth creating, especially for the majority.

Local producers have no bargaining power

The fact that farmers and other local producers have no bargaining power imposes serious economic constraints on the population particularly for those relying on seasonal crops.

Largest volume of goods sold in Gambia are imported and government derives tax revenue from these imports in addition to local sources.

Local producers operate as small and medium scale income generating ventures. Without bargaining power, local producers find it hard to realise break-even revenue from slow and limited sales.

One reason why local producers have no bargaining power is because they lack the capacity to make calculated business decision. Tailored training in entrepreneurship would have helped.

Another reason why local producers easily settle for the lowest price is because some of their produce are perishable. Only few have access to reliable storage facility. They end up having to sell very quickly.

For peanut farmers, they simply wait to hear what the market offers. They are not consulted when and where prices are decided.

Happiest moment for farmers and other small-scale producers in agriculture is when they stand to admire the greenery before harvest. After harvest, they are left at mercy of profiteering dealers.

Artisans and crafts producers who sell in tourist markets are no better fortunate. They don’t have guided pricing framework. Cash count in daily sales is what matters to some of them.

Worried about going home without next day fish money compels many of those small crafts sellers to accept last ready buyer at least profit or sometimes loss.

Central to issue of Gambian producers selling without bargaining power is the fact that they equally lack power and influence as key stakeholders.

In further reference to the remarks by Chair of WTO Review Report, Gambia is given no bargaining power while being encouraged to measure up in meeting WTO requirements.

Similarly, low scale Gambian producers have no bargaining power and lack the technical capacity to influence crucial decisions.

Where the state submits to dictates of world bodies as the situation at hand, local producers have no option but remain docile in conformity. A paradigm shift in the stakeholder matrix is much needed if the economy is ready to propel with right gears operating.

Reliance on Tourism and Peanuts is not Sustainable

Lack of bargaining power on the part of low and seasonal income bracket that rely on peanut as cash crop or tourism vendors imposes overall challenging constraints.

Government has every duty of responsibility in creating the enabling environment not just for gainful trade. Building the required capacity for low income small and medium scale entrepreneurs to undertake viable business with calculated achievement motivation continues a felt-need. Whether such desired situation is expressed or muted about does not deny it exists.

Crucial to the situation of so much reliance on tourism and peanut economy is a case where key stakeholders lack the capacity to influence decision critical to their overall success as individuals or in their collective. Absence of collective bargaining strength bears significant impact on individuals.

Development and Promotion of Enterprise Culture

High achievement motivated entrepreneurs have desire to grow their business and create wealth. To be enterprising, a desire for income is not enough. That is what makes enterprise culture different from simple social values where day to day survival remains prime concern.

In Gambian society, dependence on lead bread winners is prevalent. Large families depend on those among them with source of revenue from business or employment. People simply settle on basic means of living.

Such dependence hinges on long established social values where what belongs to one belongs to all. The home base syndrome. It has taken generations where family members keep to home without needing to move away. This is acceptable to social norms of togetherness.

What it encourages though is stagnation over longest period. When family members decide to relocate, that is considered separation from the embodiment.

The contrast of social values and enterprise culture may seem conflicting. It takes those with courage and seeming different orientation to face challenges of crossing borders by a choice of enterprise culture over social values.

Those who cross barriers and venture in business realise what it pays. They continue rising above the line of social limitations and help others along the way.

Viable Economic Model for Gambia Informal Sector Business Growth -The IBAS Strategy

Enhancing Entrepreneurship through Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs has been proven economic model for Gambia with evidence of impact.

Study by United Nations Development Programme UNDP, International Labour Organisation ILO, and Gambia Government in late 70s emerged with a suitable economic model.

Key line of enquiry for the study focused on the need to identify viable strategy aimed at employment creation in the informal sector business as economic regeneration scheme. Poverty reduction has been key performance indicator.

It emerged that the intervention required establishing a permanent institution with mandate for development and promotion of informal sector small, medium enterprises SMEs. This resulted to creation of IBAS. Eventually, Indigenous Business Advisory Services IBAS started as joint project of UNDP/ILO and Gambia Government.

To provide a window of financial support for start-ups and growing enterprises, funding was provided by European Economic Commission EEC and United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF. These funds were deposited in the defunct Gambia Commercial & Development GCDB as IBAS could not undertake direct financial service operations.

Unpaid loans provided by IBAS and those of defunct Gambia Commercial Bank brought about the establishment of Assets Management and Recovery Corporation AMRC. Whatever is recovered and managed by AMRC is not reflected in the Balance Sheet of IBAS up to this day.

Overall thinking behind the establishment of an institution like IBAS was so that technical assistance with financial support is provided for informal sector small and medium enterprises SMEs as noted earlier.

How it happened that after 30 years IBAS could not fulfil the dream of enhancing entrepreneurship to boost informal sector SMEs, many factors contributed.

Disappointingly, it is the parent government Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Employment that “killed” IBAS by tactical delays in the implementation process.

From being a joint project of UNDP /ILO and Gambia Government (GG), the plan was that once local staff get proper training, IBAS would be given autonomous status to serve as permanent institution. Some people at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Employment put heavy foot on the ground, by ensuring the goal of that autonomous status never score. They have succeeded in their scheme of tactical interference, by which process they failed entire Gambian nation.

By twist of irony, SME stakeholders had no idea what was happening behind closed doors. All they saw was that IBAs could no longer meet their demands. There are many untold stories and those who contributed to failing the informal sector SME growth dream at government Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Employment, lot of them are still alive with that guilt. The scope of this article is not meant to cover full scale sabotage by government own staffers in failing the informal sector SME growth as strategy for boosting employment and economic regeneration through Indigenous Business Advisory Services IBAS.

When the deposed junta regime decided to abolish IBAS, none of the government economists and development advisers raised even a finger.

Although IBAS collapsed through tactical sabotage by hands of people at Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment, what they cannot claim with tangible evidence is the fact that Gambia does not a permanent institution for growth of informal sector SMEs as strategy for economic regeneration.

Not to do something about this gap created by past generation of government saboteurs will turn the current regime equally guilty and culpable for further economic failures.

National Enterprise Policy.

From what readily obtains, Gambia does not have required elements or the enabling economic environment for industrialisation.

There is potential for growth through informal sector Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs. Findings indicated that SMEs are the most viable route to economic regeneration and growth required by Gambia.

Unless by strike of chance oil starts flowing to attract industrial investors, Gambia remains a commercial economy relying on imported goods.

While at the negotiating table with development partners, Gambia Government will do greater economic justice by identifying viable road to growth in the informal sector Small Medium Enterprises. That sector is the engine of economic growth not just for poor nations like Gambia but even developed economies the world over.

It is a situation of futile attempts for Gambia to divert attention from development of the informal sector Small Medium Enterprises SMEs while engaging external development partners on industrial trade relations.

One suggestion in contribution to formulation of National Enterprise Policy is by supporting the revival of regional Business Advisory and Entrepreneurship capacity building operations as the IBAS model operated over the years.

Not everything is lost for good. The corporate memory required for rekindling SME informal sector business is within reach. Past managers, staff, and international experts that served to keep IBAS going despite all hurdles may be reached for their valuable input should the occasion arise to put Gambia on right track towards viable growth.

Gambia is not ripe for industrialisation. However, boosting employment in the informal sector small and medium enterprises is readily feasible and most viable. It takes right policy to keep a nation on right track to sustainable growth.