‘Extend Foreign Trips Ban Into 2019’

By Abdoulie John

In wake of The Gambia government’s recent decision to impose a ban on foreign trips for public officials, an executive member of the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) wants the Barrow government to go extra mile. M.C Cham Jr. of calls on authorities to extend the belt-tightening decision until end of 2019.

Mr. Cham made these remarks during an exclusive interview on the heels of the Barrow government’s announcement of a major austerity measure.

Over these past months, the Barrow government has been under fire over expenses linked to public officials trips, with intensifying for authorities to put a halt to what many observers have described as “premeditated squandering of public funds.” The government’s move is necessitated by a parliamentary decision that put a cap on travel expenses. Deputies endorse that travel expenses must not exceed the celling of the 2018 budget. The measure that is expected to affect all ministries, departments and government agencies during the rest of the year, will enter into force on October 1st 2018.

Mr. Cham described the decision as a welcoming move. He however urged the authorities to do their utmost best to avoid failing Gambians.

A memo signed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mambury Njie, has imposed a “temporary ban on all government funded trips except for essential statutory meetings.” The swift decision “is necessitated by the overall fiscal slippages on travels and to ensure that expenses are within the overall travel expenditure celling of the 2018 budget as approved by the National Assembly.”

In an attempt to widen the scope, the government’s memo also indicated that the ban applies to all subvented agencies, state-owned enterprises and the Central Bank of The Gambia.

Cham is disturbed about trend the Civil Servants ‘intense lobbying’ for foreign trips which yield ‘fat per diems’ for them.

“We have a nation to build and it is very important for authorities to understand that they should limit government funded trips,” Mr. Cham added. “They have to deliver on the expectations of the public.”


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