Oct 6, 2010, 2:36 PM
The leader of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has turned his focus on the economic situation in the country, stressing that the country’s economy, as at now, is in a “bad state.”
“The truth about the Gambian economy is that it is in the bad state,” Ousainou Darboe said in an interview with The Point at the weekend.
“The economy of any country determines the wealth of its people; it determines the living conditions of the people; it determines how the social services operate, whether efficiently or not efficiently,” he added.
The current situation, he said, is due to low productivity in the agricultural sector, with the government making excuses that the drought has impacted very negatively on the economy of the country.
According to him, there is no gainsaying that, in the last year, “we had a drought and, obviously, it had some effect on the economy”.
“But then, one should ask if it was only one thing, the drought, that had adversely affected the economy to such an extent that we are in this particular situation.”
“When they talk of the drought, it is an excuse; it is an excuse given to gullible people, and to allow gullible people to swallow.”
The opposition leader went on to further state that the country does not have an even distribution of resources among the regions, among the sexes and even among the various sections of the society.
The UDP leader also opined that there is high taxation in the country.
This, he added, affects investment, noting that investors everywhere look for places where the taxes are not as harsh as in The Gambia.
“The farmers last year needed agricultural inputs such as seeds and so forth, but were these available on time and at affordable prices?” he asked, adding that if the “back to the land” call was properly applied, the magnitude of the country’s demand for aid would have reduced a lot.
Declaring further that the country’s export base is weak, Darboe opined that this has really put the Gambian economy in a bad state, leading to an increase in poverty.
“In fact, it is even undermining the government’s policy of PAGE. If you do not have the productive base in the economy functioning properly; if you do not have investment in the country, where are you going to get employment for the youths of the country?
“And all these would impact on the growth of the economy,” he continued.
In his own view, it is time for the government to look out to other members of the society, both civil and others on the other side of the political divide because, as he put it, “this is a national issue”.
“It is an issue that affects every Gambian, and we should sit down and discuss how we can get our economy energized; how we should get our economy moving and kicking; what do we do to encourage investment in the country; what can we do to make best use of the presence of so many banks in the country,” the UDP leader added.