The ceremony was held at the McCarty Square in Banjul.
The government intends to distribute 360,000 bags of 50kg of 100% broken rice, 50kg bags of sugar and 10 litre drums of refined cooking oil to needy Gambian citizens across the country.
“Following a thorough review exercise, an amount of D734,254,864 worth of food items is now available to support 84% deserving households countrywide. Such support will include rice, oil and sugar to each of the vulnerable households identified,” Mr. Barrow said.
However, he was quick to add that the amount was different from D500 million already earmarked for the Ministry of Health. That amount is to upgrade and sufficiently strengthen the health system to address the covid-19 challenges and beyond.
“My government recognises that Gambians deserve an urgent national response to both the health and socio-economic crises resulting from losses in productivity and remittances to Gambian households.”
He added that they will ensure that support provided to all citizens, especially the vulnerable, is real in value.
“Conscious of the difficulties that confront many households, the government has devised strict measures to ensure that our food stock is secure. I am informed by the Ministry of Trade that supplies of rice, sugar, flour and other food items are available.”
President Barrow also emphasised that under the emergency powers, strict regulations are in place to make sure that people hiking prices, hoarding or attempting to smuggle food items outside the country are brought to book.
“Transparency and accountability form the cornerstone of our governance system. To uphold these principles and guarantee financial discipline and management of the resources available for the pandemic, a single government account has been opened to cater for rapid one-stop financial transactions.”
President Barrow added that distributions and monitoring mechanisms have been put in place involving the relevant institutions and local government authorities, adding that distribution Points have been identified and vouchers will be used to reach the household beneficiaries with the government Food Support.
“A donation committee has already been set up to coordinate all donations regarding covid-19, and a National Response Coordinator has been identified,” he said. “This decision is meant to expedite efficient and effective processes in the management and provision of socio-economic support, while keeping the public informed and updated on such processes.”