Lawmakers approve $93m loan agreement with Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Legislators at the National Assembly on Wednesday approved a $93 million dollars loan agreement with Saudi Arabia almost a month after the agreement was signed by the two countries, Kerr Fatou reports.

Out of the total loan, $50 million is expected to be used for construction of roads within Greater Banjul Area and $10.5 million is expected to be used for the construction of a VIP lounge at the Banjul International Airport.

Part of the grant component of the loan, $22.5 million is expected to be invested in improving water and sanitation and $10 million dollars is for improvement of electricity supply within the Greater Banjul Area.

The finance minister Manburay Njie who table the motion said the loan has a 1% interest rate with 5 years grace period and payable in 30 years, according to Kerr Fatou.

“The government of the Gambia would be upgrading and improving the overall infrastructure and social amenities which would lead to the successful hosting of the 2022 OIC summit in the Gambia,” Njie told lawmakers.

“These financing would provide the much-needed infrastructures relevant to the various sectors of the economy, which are no doubt very critical to the successful hosting of the 2022 OIC summit in the Gambia.”

Veteran lawmakers like Halifa Sallah and Sidia Jatta have asked their colleagues to hand the agreement to the National Assembly Projects Monitoring Committee for proper scrutiny before approval.

Sallah said the finance minister has failed to furnish lawmakers with adequate information required for them to properly scrutinise the bill. He expressed concern over the unsustainable public debt of the country.

Gambia’s public debt is over a billion dollars, something Sidia Jatta said should be properly managed.

“The OIC cannot be as urgent as the condition of my people some of whom do not even have roofs over their heads,” said Jatta.

“I am not worried. I am angry,” he protested.