#Article (Archive)

A Serious Matter

Aug 20, 2008, 3:20 AM

Of course, not many readers, especially civil servants will be pleased with the story we carried in yesterday's issue regarding reports that by September/October a bag of rice, a staple food in The Gambia, will reach D1, 250.

Ever since we reported about the issue, which was revealed by Dr. Kujejatou Manneh-Jallow, Country Director of Action-Aid The Gambia, there have been mixed reactions as to current state of escalation of prices of basic commodities in the country. The report is enough of a worry to make one sit up with profound concern. According to the report, the issue has implications for majority of the citizens, especially those receiving a minimum monthly salary of D650. This can hardly cover the cost of a bag of rice nowadays.

Be this as it is, many would expect employers to give a lot of thought to the matter of salary increases because workers deserve better conditions of service.

Though we can't say by what percentage salaries should be increased, we urge the authorities to give a lot of thought to the matter of salary increases. Workers' pay packets no longer match the rising prices of basic commodities.

Workers, who live on fixed income, are usually worse off when prices go up, especially so when they have no other source of income. As their income falls far short of their expenditure, they tend to live by their wits, or lose interest in their work. As a result, efficiency suffers.

What most workers take home nowadays is not just enough to make ends meet. Just imagine a family man who earns D2,000 a month. If he has to spend say D700 on rent, D300 on utilities, then he is left with just about D1,000. Out of this, he has to take care of feeding and other miscellaneous expenses. At the end of the day, the monthly salary doesn't last even eight days. What happens next is for him to depend on the goodwill of the grocer to tide over the rest of the month. This is no doubt a miserable way to live.

Interestingly, when things continue like this way, ordinary people who are known for honesty are tempted to do unimaginable things just to get by, thus engaging in corruption.

Workers should be made to be able to pay their rent, feed their families, take care of if not all but half of the needs of the family so as to maintain effective and efficient performance in their various offices as better services will yield better results.

"I'm living so far beyond my income that we might almost be said to be living apart."