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Faal, Sallah spar on economy, health, others in historic debate 

Nov 23, 2021, 11:43 AM | Article By: Sankulleh Gibril Janko

Independent Candidate Esaa Mbaye Faal and party leader of People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) Halifa Sallah made history on Saturday by becoming the first presidential candidates to hold a public debate.

 

The two candidates were the only aspirants to attend the debate organised by the Committee for Political Debate.

Mr. Faal and Mr. Sallah debated on various policy programmes in front of a full hall at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in Bijilo.

Although the two gentlemen had their different policy programmes on how to run the affairs of the state once elected into office on December 4th, they debated with dignity and utmost respect for each other.

Without doubt Essa Mbaye Faal and Halifa Baboucarr Sallah will be remembered in the political history of the Gambia.

Below are the key thematic areas the two presidential candidates debated on.

Economy

Independent candidate Faal has a variety of ideas on how to boost the economy if elected.

Key among his economic programmes include free business environment, simplifying tax laws, digitizing the economy, E-government as well as building factories for fish processing.

He promised to bring back the Draft Constitution to life and to reform the civil service for better economic activities.

Sallah meanwhile, said he would focus on agriculture to revive the economy knowing its importance.

National Assembly Member for Serekunda, Sallah said he would expand the production base to produce enough exports for the country.

He said his government would transform the army and the other security services into a workforce to explore economic activities for the country.

He said his government would also make a constitutional reform for better economic activities.

Health

Mr. Faal spoke about the deplorable health sector of the Gambia. He offered better ideas which included heavy investment in the sector, better and accessible ambulances. He promised to revamp the entire health sector and restore its lost glory.

For his part Halifa Sallah said his government will rehabilitate the health sector. He spoke about the need for health care from village level through to the regions. Sallah believes the training of health care workers should start from the village level. He said he would invest in health technology as well as institute a regulatory body for health.

He spoke about the need for prenatal and maternal care from the village level

Agriculture

Essa Faal said there is a “steep decline in every sector” of the Gambia including agriculture. The renowned lawyer said “any country that cannot feed itself is doomed.”

Faal acknowledged the impact of climate change on agriculture, adding “climate change is real and we have to deal with it.” He said his government would institute proper planning for the sector and make use of various varieties of rice. Faal claimed The Gambia has enough rice fields that could feed Gambia.

For his part Honourable Sallah said “agriculture is the key to our foundation. He thinks one of the ways to have a vibrant agricultural sector includes “providing cooperative banks without interest” for farmers.

Sallah said National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) has what it takes to accommodate climate change if the government invests in it.

He said his government would also establish institutions to take a critical look at climate change for better agricultural productivity.

He said his government will advocate for low cost housing; to provide lands for farming while he frowns at selling public land.

Like Mr. Faal, Sallah believes the Gambia has enough arable land for rice production.

Education

Essa Faal said the education system of the Gambia is not designed to train people in the appropriate areas vis-a-vis the market demand for employment.

He said his government will ensure early start to education and heavy investment in the sector.

 Faal also encourages equitable distribution of resources, heavy investment in digital infrastructure to improve the network. The former Lead Counsel of the TRRC said he would privatise Gamtel to be much more competitive and productive.

He said solar and renewable energy will be encouraged under his leadership.

The PDOIS leader Sallah said “we do not have the system of education fit for our culture.” He had similar views to Faal on early education but is cognisant of an academic system with socialism.

He said his government would provide free education that will be implemented for students up to grade 12 as well as study the problems of the education system and create policies for them.

He emphasised a national service to set a knowledge based career for students.

He proposed a loan system for students to begin their chosen career fields.

In terms of infrastructure, Halifa said his government will build an Airport in Basse and will digitalize infrastructure.

He said he will ensure there is a regulatory authority for public works to provide accountability.

Like Mr. Faal, Mr. Sallah also spoke about the need for renewable energy.

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