The National Assembly on Thursday and for the first time unanimously voted against a supplementary budget tabled by Finance Minister Mamburay Njie.
The Minister wanted Deputies to approve D1, 128, 337, 519.77 (One Billion One hundred and twenty-eight million, three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, five hundred and nineteen Dalasi, and seventy-seven bututs) to enable the Barrow government function.
Minister Njie stressed the need for the funds which he posited were badly needed to keep the government operational. Deputies vehemently opposed the Bill. Banjul North MP Ousman Sillah says the Minister’s budgetary request is unconstitutional.
“They are asking for money to pay for certain expenses; certain things that they have already spent. And section 1153 of the Constitution prohibits that. What they should bring before us is things that have not been spent. They have already spent on it and then want us to approve it; that is what we rejected totally, Sillah posited. Sidia Jatta NAM for West also expressed disappointment with the bill saying with respect, this is an unlawful, unconstitutional and unconscionable request and I trust our NAMS across party lines will act in the interest of the country.
Whilst Deputies regardless of the political divide made it clear to the Finance minister that they will have none of it, civil society organization and youths stormed the National Assembly Building added their voice and called on their representative to totally reject it for a number of reasons. Firstly, tabling the SAB in December is a violation of the prescription of the constitution section 154 (1) which reads An act of National Assembly may make provision for the establishment of a Contingencies Fund and for authorizing the President to make advances from that fund if he or she is satisfied that there has arisen an unforeseen and urgent need for expenditure for which no other provision exists, Provided that the President shall not authorize any expenditure from the contingencies Fund in excess of one percent of the estimates approved by the National Assembly for the current year before he or she has caused a supplementary estimate in respect of such excess expenditure to be presented to the National Assembly,D1.2 Billion by any stretch of imagination exceeds 1% of the approved estimate for 2018, Secondly, can the Government tell the citizenry why it needs additional D1.2 Billion Dalasis less than 2 weeks before the end of the financial year. What kind of unforeseen and urgent need is our Government faced with to justify raising D1.2 Billion Dalasis.