“We are concerned that no coherent strategy was unveiled as to how the D500 million emergency funds for covid-19 will be used,” he said on Thursday at a local hotel in Senegambia.
The relief fund was designed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
“The minister of Finance’s recent statement that 143 million has already been used without properly accounting for how it was used is a cause for concern,” Dr. Ceesay opined. “We urge the minister to tell the Gambian people how this money was used and how the government intends to use the rest of the money. This must be done without delay.”
According to him, we must be able to rely on our government in times of crisis to manage our affairs, by digging deep into such a reserve budget put in place to relieve the most affected and the most vulnerable.
The primary responsibility of any serious government, he went on, is to provide leadership in times of crisis and to ensure the health, economic and social well-being of its citizens during pandemics of this nature and other disasters.
The aftershocks of covid-19, Mr. Ceesay continued, will pose a serious threat to our people.
He added: “In using this money, we urge the government to consider the economic support for Gambians badly affected by the pandemic, even those in the diaspora. Put a robust preparedness response in place whilst we prepare for the worst.”
“We must be ready for this by investing in training of medical personnel and providing the necessary equipment such as testing machines and ventilators.”
“Nonetheless, conspicuously missing in the government strategy, however, is a socio-economic response plan that would address the financial and economic impacts of this disease and the unexpected burden it places on our people and their livelihoods.”
Dr. Ceesay underlined that Citizens Alliance believes that the measures put in place by the government to contain the virus has the potential to cause adverse financial and economic impacts on our already poverty stricken population.
To help mitigate the effects of the measures, he outlined that government must adopt corresponding social and economic measures that will ensure that those affected are provided with a safety net by providing the most vulnerable direct financial support in the form of cash transfers and to support SME’s/businesses affected by the economic slowdown in the form of tax and import duty rebates, concessional loans and other economic stimulants.
“We believe that the measures introduced to contain covid-19 must be able to save lives at the same time protecting livelihoods. We can strike a balance between health security and economic security.”
The covid-19 pandemic, the UTG political science lecturer noted, has exposed the lack of foresights of our government and taught us lessons to forever remember on the importance of state preparedness in times of emergencies or crisis, that are beyond the control of any individual.