Issued: Monday 26 March 2018
Mr. President, last week you were amongst the African Heads of State who attended the Extra-ordinary Summit of African Union Heads of State in Rwanda where the African Heads of State witnessed the historic event of signing an African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement.
As you rightly said in your speech delivered in that august gathering, “the aim of this agreement is to boost intra-African trade to promote economic growth, structural transformation and industrialisation of the African economies. To take advantage of the Free Trade Area, we need to address the barriers that continue to limit the growth of trade in all the regional groupings”.
Mr. President, now that the agreement has been signed, African leaders should take this opportunity to promote free trade and also used the opportunity to work on having a common passport and currency. Free movement of people and goods by air, land and sea transports should also be made affordable and accessible. Visas between African states should be abolished or African countries can be giving free three months visa to any visitor going to any other African country.
Mr. President, African leaders should reinforce their cooperation in all fields to support each other and make this trade agreement a reality. African countries should also promote agriculture, security, education, health, science and technology in other to attain its goals towards developing the African continent.
Mr. President, back to the home front, we are calling on you and your government to put an end to this doctors’ strike which is getting out of hands. Your government should try to solve this problem amicably for the interest of the Gambian populace.
Health is costly and many people cannot afford to pay for treatment at the private hospitals and clinics where most of the doctors are working and seeing patients presently.
Mr. President, we are appealing to you as the head of state to invite them and discuss with them to know what their problem is and see a way forward for the health sector. The minister of Health, PS Health, secretary general and head of Civil Services should all be invited for a dialogue and work for the benefit of the whole Gambia.
Mr. President, We are also appealing to the doctors to forgive and forget. Let them bury the hatchet as we are all Gambians. Let them resolve this problem quickly once and for all and forever.
Mr. President, we welcome the move of the minister of Education, Claudina Cole, for warning against any educational personnel found guilty of examination mal practices to be punished. This phenomenon of examination malpractices is now rampant in Africa and strict measures should be introduced to avert these malpractices.
Finally, Mr. President, the basic commodities and cement are going very high in the country as a result of sky rocking of foreign exchange – something that your government should address quickly to remedy the situation. Despite the tax being reduced from 15% to zero, a bag of rice is still peg at D1, 170 to D1, 200. Cement is also very expensive. Your government should act and make sure that the prices of some of these basic commodities go down immediately especially the rice hence its tax was reduced since January.