Government revenue is not spent on whatever one wishes to spend it on, or on how one wishes to do something.
At least Thirty days before the end of each financial year, the Minister of Finance is required to submit estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the Gambia for the following financial year. When this estimate is approved it is transformed into an appropriation bill which is presented to the National Assembly to be passed into law. Once the Appropriation Act becomes law, the government should adhere to it. This is what is called financial discipline.
When it comes to commemoration of national events and financing, the visits of foreign heads of state the following is allocated:
2012, 2013 and 2014 celebrations of events were allocated 7.570 Million; 5.0 Million and 7.5 Million respectively. In 2014 the sum of 750000 dalasis is allocated to finance the visit of heads of state.
The National Assembly members are entitled to ask how much of the 7.5 Million dalasis allocated for commemoration of National events for 2014 has been spent during the 18th February commemorations and the July 22nd commemorations.
One chronic problem the government has had is overspending which gave rise to a projected deficit of 2.4 billion dalasis in 2013. Government continued to live above its means by increasing domestic borrowing to finance its deficits. This is why the Minister of finance said in his 2014 budget speech that “the 2014 budget will focus on fiscal prudence aimed at minimising the growing deficit being financed by costly domestic borrowing.”
In simple Language fiscal prudence could only mean cutting down unnecessary expenditures. When we finally know how much has been spent on the twentieth anniversary commemoration, each should ask whether it was prudent to spend money on celebration when we are still covering up budget deficits through domestic borrowing.
The nation is owed an explanation by its elected representatives. We pause for a reply.