Michael Scales

(JollofNews) – According to the French press, President Adama Barrow has put a figure on the amount as being 4 billion Dalasis (about 80 million Euros) that Yahya Jammeh took from the Gambian coffers This is around the same amount that Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Moamar Gaddafi of Libya were claimed to have diverted to foreign bank accounts during their tenure. But of course the Gambia is a much smaller and poorer nation with no oil.

My understanding is that the banking system recovery mechanism called “claim back” only works if there was proven fraud or the payments were unauthorised. This would be out of my field of knowledge and best left to barristers to argue.

On a positive note though, these would be placed on a balance sheet as none recurring expenses. So without these withdrawals, the Gambia should make a strong fiscal recovery. However, it was sad to see President Barrow doing the rounds in Europe for cash aid. Of course the Europeans are kind with words indicating their hope that human rights and democratic intentions makes future assistance as “possible”, but words are cheap and actions speak louder than words.

The report also indicated that the Chinese were refurbishing the Statehouse and that the Gambia has signed an agreement with Senegal to train 1000 soldiers. Clearly, there should be no weak links in West Africa to combat the growing threat of terrorism in the region. A terrorist strike in Gambia would cripple the fragile Gambian economy. However, with Jammeh out of the way, internal and external attacks should be minimised.

Mr Barrow also was less than clear when asked if he would stay for the full five-year term. The markets need certainty and a government of unity all pointing in the same direction. We need to see how the coalition manifesto pledges are to be implemented and by which policies.  I think a top-down reform of the Gambia’s banking system is called for, which a credit score based lending system urgently needed with emphasis on affordable start-up business loans being in vanguard of all future government and banking policy.

This will attract many Gambians with cash back into the country. I have never been a fan of Value Added Tax (VAT) as this is a universal tax that the rich and poor pay with no relief for those who are the poorest in society.  The old system of purchase tax was much fairer. Governments like this tax as they can raise revenue easily just by increasing the amount paid.

The former APRC government’s universal policies should not be disregarded but modified and made to work better. I continue to ask for the input of all permanent secretaries and business leaders to advise the Barrow government on the balanced way forward. Experience is knowledge, information is power!
I believe The Gambia has a very bright future.