“PDOIS is committed to nurture a new Gambian to build a new Gambia for system change and poverty eradication” – Halifa Sallah
By Yankuba Jallow
Halifa Sallah, the Secretary-General of the Peoples’ Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism said the party must move from regime change to system change to eradicate the poverty of the people.
Sallah made mention of this before a Congress attracting a huge number of delegates and invited guests to the venue in Ngayen Sanjal Village, Sabach Sanjal District, North Bank Region. The Congress was held from the 28 to the 30 December 2018.
Speaking before the gathering, Honourable Sallah stated that the budget of the country has now exceeded 25 billion dalasis out of which 13.5 billion dalasis will come from grants and budget support.
“The Economy of The Gambia is sinking. In 2015, our import was 16 billion dalasis and 814 million dalasis was for export; 2.9 billion for re-export trade. We had a trade deficit of over 12 billion dalasis. In 2017, our import was 25 billion dalasis and export was 630 million dalasis and our re-export was 403 million. We experienced a deficit of 24.4 billion,” he said.
Sallah, also told the people that PDOIS has since 1986 to date been teaching the Gambian people that taxation constitutes the basis of our economy and that the country cannot move when taxation is the basis of the economy.
“What PDOIS told you is that the economy of the country is sinking that is why the debt of the country is over 56 billion. How are you going to rescue our homeland when taxes constitute the basis of our economy?” he asked.
Sallah said unless and until our governments invest in the productive base of the economy, the economy will continue to sink. Sallah challenged the government to invest in the productive base of the economy if it is truly committed to what is meant by ‘economic reform’.
On food security and self-sufficiency, Sallah said in order to attain food self-sufficiency, PDOIS will establish a cooperative bank and a cooperative marketing institution to support family and community farms to enable them to have access to farm inputs such as fertilizer, seeds and farm implements on one hand, and markets and fair price on the other, to ensure food self-sufficiency and community development.
On rural development, that access to sustainable and affordable clean drinking water, health facilities, labour saving devices, better roads and better housing are grossly inadequate in many villages in the country which are without any revenue, or village fund, derived from village earnings to contribute to village development;
On Youth Economic Empowerment, Sallah said statistics show that about 500,000 children come out of our educational system every 12 years. Sallah said they need to be prepared for employment. Sallah said PDOIS will pursue a policy of linking agricultural production with processing to ensure that employment and income generating measures are created for the youth and thus minimize the perilous adventure to seek greener pastures abroad.
Sallah said the Sustainable Fishing Partnership between the Gambia and the European Union does not put into consideration the issue of returnees. Sallah added that the deal should have put into consideration how to secure jobs for Gambians in the vessels. Sallah averred that PDOIS will pursue a policy with foreign governments to ensure labour, knowledge, skills and technology through mutually beneficial win-win agreements which will facilitate a legal settlement of Gambian youths abroad.
On women’s upliftment from poverty, Sallah said women make up half of the population, and are mostly engaged in farming, or horticulture, without access to inputs and reliable markets. To address the problem of the vast majority of women, a Cooperative Bank and a Cooperative marketing establishment will be commissioned to provide all the inputs for gardening, aquaculture, animal husbandry, petty business and cottage industries to enable women to earn income sufficient for improved living and further purchase farm produce to promote value-added production through processing to generate income and eradicate poverty.
Sallah presented the captions of PDOIS’ draft Manifesto which is in the form of a social contract with all sectors of society. Sallah assured the Congress that Regional Committees will continue the discussion on the draft manifesto and resolutions of the party which form the basis of its present and future policies when they form a government.